The New York inspector general, which functions separately and apart from the NYPD itself, issued its long-expected report
(seen in full below) on how officers continue to choke citizens during arrests in spite of the move being banned from the force in 1993.
The scathing 45-page report details the circumstances surrounding ten proven cases in which NYPD officers absolutely applied a chokehold during an arrest. All ten cases happened prior to the choking death of Eric Garner at the hands of NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, but each had a shockingly similar outcome for the officers in which little to no discipline is meted out regardless of the circumstances.
There are four essential highlights of the report. Head below the fold for those highlights and more.
1. In every case, in spite of the clarity of the evidence, or the outrageousness of the chokehold, the NYPD completely rejected every single disciplinary recommendation given by the Civilian Review Board. The report states, "In fact, there was no indication from the records reviewed that NYPD seriously contemplated CCRB’s disciplinary recommendations or that CCRB’s input added any value to the disciplinary process."
2. Although it was determined that discipline for the officers was needed in 60 percent of the cases, the police commissioner lessened the discipline suggested by the Civilian Review Board in every case and even refused discipline in two cases in which even his office agreed a violation happened. No details were even given in any cases for the reduced discipline—which was usually just a written letter or a required conversation with a superior.
3. The report determined that in many cases, NYPD officers, in spite of the chokehold being banned without exception, are using it not only in physical altercations, but frequently using it when they are just having a verbal disagreement with a citizen. In spite of the fact that NYPD officers are trained on how to verbally de-escalate conflicts, they are clearly choking citizens who they are just irritated by. The NY Daily News details three of the cases detailed in the report.
On Valentine's Day 2008 in the Bronx, two witnesses backed up a complainant's charge that while he was arguing with officers investigating a domestic violence call involving his neighbor, a cop placed his hands around the complainant's neck and squeezed his Adam's apple. CCRB recommended departmental charges; Commissioner Kelly approved a much lesser punishment — the loss of five vacation days.
In a Nov. 19, 2008, incident, a 15-year-old detained on robbery charges alleged he was choked by a sergeant while handcuffed to a rail inside a Bronx precinct house. CCRB substantiated the allegation based on another teenage witness in the station and the sergeant's account. Kelly rejected CCRB's recommendations for the toughest punishment — departmental charges that could result in the sergeant being fired — and instead imposed no punishment at all.
On Aug. 26, 2009, a man who said he was rapping with friends outside a Brooklyn NYCHA building made a comment that caused a police officer to pull over. He alleged one of the cops put him in a headlock that restricted his breathing. The cop admitted to using the headlock and witnesses backed up the complainant. CCRB recommended departmental charges; Kelly decided "instructions" were enough.
4. Based on the overall findings of the report, immediate policy changes were recommended. They include:
1.) Increase coordination and collaboration between NYPD and CCRB to reconsider and refine the disciplinary system for improper uses of force, specifically to ensure that both entities apply consistent standards. Clearly, if CCRB is to add value to the disciplinary process for use-of-force cases, its recommendations must be predictable and consistently enforced.
2.) Ensure that the Police Commissioner’s disciplinary decisions are reasoned, transparent, and in writing, particularly when they depart from the recommendations of CCRB.
3.) Expand IAB’s access to newly-filed complaints and substantive information on use-of-force cases filed with CCRB.
4.) Improve consistency, information sharing, and case tracking for non-FADO investigations that are outsourced to borough and precinct investigators via OCD.
Below, you will find the full report. It's a must read.