By LOUIS FLORES
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was named as the subject of a complaint filed by fired Council staffer Artyom Matusov, The New York Daily News reported.
Mr. Matusov lodged his complaint with the city's Department of Investigation after he was reportedly dismissed from his job as an analyst for the city's legislative body. His dismissal took place a few days after Mr. Matusov leaked damaging information to the press that showed that New York Police Department Commissioner William Bratton provided false testimony during a City Council hearing. Mr. Matusov did not return a request for comment.
Information reportedly provided by Mr. Matusov demonstrated that the statistics of police use of force was demonstratively higher than Commissioner Bratton stated in his testimony. Mr. Matusov's allegations were affirmed by a report published in The New York Times.
Police reform activists have long alleged that the NYPD have intentionally under-reported police misconduct. Now, with Mr. Matusov's truth-telling, the larger public is once again focusing on a long-simmering problem : the police department is dishonest about the use of force by arresting officers. The current heightened scrutiny of NYPD misconduct follows the homicide of Eric Garner, who died after he was placed in an illegal chokehold while in police custody.
Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), who represents the neighborhoods of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst in the City Council, has not yet answered a request for comment about Mr. Matusov's complaint.
That the Council speaker would summarily fire a Council staffer, who blew the whistle on police use of force, has attracted widespread scorn from police reform activists. Overhauling the NYPD has been a major municipal issue for over a decade, and the issue became the central reform issue in last year's municipal elections. However, heightened expectations for reform were dashed after the regressive appointment of Mr. Bratton was announced late last year. Other cues, such as the appointments of a close de Blasio ally to head the Department of Investigation and a close Bratton ally to head the Civilian Complaint Review Board, along with the de Blasio administration's staunch defense of the discriminatory Broken Windows theory of policing, have hinted that Mayor de Blasio never had honest intentions to overhaull the city's troubled police department.
Police reform activists have pointed to the close relationships that Mark Peters, who heads the Department of Investigation, and Speaker Mark-Viverito have with Mayor de Blasio as indication that there are no checks to keep the mayor accountable to his campaign promise to reform the NYPD. Mr. Peters was formerly Mayor de Blasio's campaign treasurer, and Mr. Peters was tasked with appointing the first inspector general to oversee the NYPD. Mr. Peters' close relationship with Mayor de Blasio worried activists, who expected that Mr. Peters would never undertake the kind of scrutiny of the NYPD that would politically embarrass Mayor de Blasio. Now, it falls on Mr. Peters to answer Mr. Matusov's whistleblower complaint against Speaker Mark-Viverito.
Activists pressing for an overhaul of NYPD are concerned that Mr. Peters will fail to hold Speaker Mark-Viverito accountable for firing a whistleblower, since she was installed in her position as Council speaker by Mayor de Blasio in a speakership campaign teeming with controversies for Councilmember Mark-Viverito. Amongst the many ethics violations triggered by her successful speakership campaign, Speaker Mark-Viverito became the subject of another complaint, this one filed with the U.S. Attorney's Office, alleging that her campaign consulting firm, The Advance Group, may have violated campaign finance regulations for having provided undeclared services to Speaker Mark-Viverito during her speakership campaign.
Growing impatience with stalled police reforms have irked activists since last December. Police reform activists began protesting the regressive new police commissioner before he was even sworn in, have organized forums to draw attention to the way some community groups have intentionally de-escalated demands for police reform, have called for Commissioner Bratton's resignation in the wake of Mr. Garner's murder, and plans were just recently announced for the kick-off of an "NYPD Five Points March" to be held on Columbus Day.