Nearly 150 cops violated NYPD rules during George Floyd protests — and the tally would likely be substantially higher were it not for officers covering their badge numbers and their supervisors losing track of where they were assigned, according to a scathing report released Monday by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
During the 2020 protests, 146 cops violated NYPD rules 269 times, with 34 demonstrators struck with batons, 28 pepper-sprayed and 59 roughed up with physical force, the report says.
But there were 609 additional allegations that were closed because CCRB investigators were never able to identify the officer involved.
The report cites in these cases the “pervasive and purposeful actions taken by officers to conceal their identities, such as wearing mourning bands over their shields or refusing to provide their name and shield to civilians, and the NYPD’s failure to track and document where officers, vehicles, and equipment were deployed”.
Those 609 incidents represent 43% of the 1,402 allegations investigated.
The 590-page report is the latest chapter in the fallout from the mass protests that erupted after Floyd was killed by a cop in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
The NYPD made more than 2,000 arrests and has largely defended its handling of the demonstrations, noting that in many cases rioters bent on destruction attacked and injured cops — including two lieutenants slugged with bricks — set police cars on fire and looted high-end stores, most notably in Soho. Videos captured a number of violent confrontations between cops and protesters and outright acts of vandalism and other crimes by rioters.
Then-NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said at one point that officers showed they were capable of moving in and arresting rioters while allowing peaceful protesters to carry on. And in an interview with the city Department of Investigation in late 2020 he said he felt the NYPD had been well prepared for the demonstrations and that “the officers did a phenomenal job under extremely difficult circumstances.”
But the Department of Investigation later released a 111-page report that concluded the NYPD was unprepared, using disorder control tactics that heightened tensions on the street and violated the First Amendment rights of protesters.
“The response really was a failure on many levels,” then-DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said. And then-Mayor de Blasio said he agreed with the report’s findings, even as he noted that most cops did their job the right way.
The CCRB says in its new report that it got 321 complaints and fully investigated 226 of them — many of which involved multiple officers and allegations.
Of the 226 cases, 88 were substantiated and the CCRB recommended departmental charges against 89 officers and command disciplines, typically the loss of vacation days, against 57 others. Thus far, 78 cases have been fully adjudicated in the NYPD trial room at 1 Police Plaza, with 42 officers getting disciplined.
The report cited a number of high-profile incidents including cops in two patrol cars driving through a crowd of protesters in Brooklyn, Manhattan protesters getting pepper-sprayed and the mass arrest of more than 250 protesters who were surrounded by police in the Bronx.
The NYPD didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the new report’s findings.
Arva Rice, the CCRB’s interim chair, said the NYPD needs to do better — and to hold accountable officers who do wrong.
“It is key for New York to know how to best respond to protests, especially protests against police misconduct,” Rice said in statement. “It is also of the upmost importance that officers be held accountable in order to rebuild the public’s trust in the NYPD”
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