NYPD brutality includes police-on-police violence ; theatrics distract from reform [UPDATED]


As the Patrolemen's Benevolent Association continues its use of inflammatory rhetoric against City Hall and as individual police officials band together to finance theatrics to denounce Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City),  even caustic former Rudolph Giuliani (R-New York City) has come to Mayor de Blasio's defense, saying that Mayor de Blasio is not responsible for the unprovoked shooting deaths of two New York Police Department officers last week in Brooklyn. 

However, this is the same former mayor, who also antagonised police reform advocates for blaming police brutality on minority communities, citing the high incidence rate of Black-on-Black crime as an excuse for over-policing.

Police-On-Police Crime

Analysis by Progress Queens shows some recent examples of police-on-police crime :

  • In January 2006, off-duty NYPD officer Eric Hernandez was shot and killed by a fellow officer, who was, in turn, responding to a 911 call about an altercation at a White Castle restaurant up in The Bronx.  Officer Hernandez died 11 days later from complications related to the three bullets, which struck his body.  Then NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly blamed Officer Hernandez's death on men, who began the altercation with Officer Hernandez, not on Officer Alfredo Toro, who shot Officer Hernandez.
  • In May 2009, an off-duty Black NYPD officer, Omar Hernandez, was shot and killed by a white police officer, Andrew Dunton, setting off a racially-tinged debate about the safety of Black police officers serving on the NYPD.
  • In September 2009, NYPD officer Adrian Schoolcraft was kidnapped by fellow police officers and hospitalised against his will in the psychiatric ward of Jaimaica Hospital in Queens, after Officer Schoolcraft had publicised secretly-made recordings, which demonstrated police misconduct, including the existence of arrest and stop-and-frisk quotas.  Officer Schoolcraft's secret recordings also demonstrated that police officers were told to avoid recording certain crimes, in order to manipulate crime statistics, according to an exhaustive investigation by The Village Voice.  Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown refused to press charges criminal against the NYPD for kidnapping and involuntarily holding Officer Schoolcraft against his will.
  • In August 2012, off-duty Black NYPD officer Harold Thomas was violently arrested for supposedly being under the influence and for resisting arrest.  Officer Thomas later claimed that he had been racially-profiled by his own fellow police officers.
  • In April 2014, on-duty NYPD detective Jay Poggi shot his police partner, Matthew Sullivan, in the wrist after having drinks in Howard Beach, Queens.  Detective Poggi was charged with DWI after he drove officer Sullivan to Jamaica Hospital, where the wounded officer underwent surgery.  At his arraignment, Officer Poggi was set free without bail.
  • Also in April 2014, a heavily intoxicated, off-duty NYPD officer Brendan Cronin pointed his 9mm Glock on fellow officers, nearly drawing their fire, after the responding officers were called to investigate reports that Officer Cronin had inexplicably fired his gun at least 14 times, according to one report, into a car, striking a complete stranger, Joe Felice, six times, leading to a debate about how police are held accountable for crimes.  Officer Cronin was charged with aggravated assault, not attempted murder, according to a report published in The New York Times.

Theatrics Distract From Calls To Reform

The street theatre of thousands of NYPD officers turning their backs on Mayor de Blasio during his remarks at the funeral service for fallen NYPD officer Rafael Ramos were blatant displays of insubordination against authority and rejection of accountability, some said on social media accounts over Twitter.

Many police reform activists cite the 1992 police riot outside City Hall, in which 10,000 NYPD officers raged in Lower Manhattan, including temporarily blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, after former mayor David Dinkins (D-New York) had emplaned the Mollen Commission to investigate widespread reports of corruption and misconduct at various precinct station houses across New York City.

After the backlash that the NYPD and police unions received to that violent 1992 outburst, police reform activists are having to confront a new reality, in which police unions are engaged in a less violent, public relations battle to quell criticisms of police even as tension mount over police reform advocates' demands, which include calling for an end of the NYPD's controversial use of tactics known as the "Broken Windows" theory of policing and parallel demands that NYPD Commissioner William Bratton resign.

For months, to appease the NYPD, Mayor de Blasio has been diluting reforms in police accountability by promising that new training programs would be enough to reform the NYPD, even as other police reform activists call for the creation of another commission, this time to both independently investigate and prosecute police corruption and misconduct, something that nearly all critics of the NYPD universally agree : that the city's five District Attorney's Offices are incapable of holding the NYPD accountable for crimes they commit.