New York AG sues NYPD and city over force in racial justice protest

New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference, announcing a trial to dissolve the NRA on August 06, 2020 in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the New York Police Department and New York City alleging that officers used excessive force during the summer’s racial justice protest.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, called for the NYPD to oversee systemic reforms by an independent monitor. It also asks the court to declare the police action illegal.

The 69-page filing includes dozens of excessive force violations charges, along with graphic photographs of individuals who say they were beaten and in some cases illegally detained by police.

“The NYPD is engaged in a pattern of excessive, brutal and unlawful force against peaceful protesters,” James said in a statement accompanying the lawsuit.

“Over the past few months, the NYPD has repeatedly and repeatedly violated New York’s rights, causing significant physical and psychological harm and causing great distrust in law enforcement,” James said. “With today’s lawsuit, this old pattern of brutal and illegal force is over. No one is above the law – individuals are not even accused of enforcing it.”

NYPD police officers watch protesters in Times Square on June 1, 2020, during a “Black Lives Matter” protest.

Timothy A. Clary | Via AFP Getty Image

The trial comes months after thousands of people gathered to protest police violence following the murders of Minneapolis and Brio Taylor in Louisville, New York. Floyd and Taylor, both Blacks, were killed by police and became icons of the Black Lives Matter movement.

After the video aired showing a violent confrontation between apparently peaceful protesters and law enforcement, Andrew Cuomo called for a civil investigation into police misconduct. The investigation eventually uncovered 30 incidents in which police allegedly used pepper spray, and 75 in which they allegedly used inappropriate force.

“When Defendants, starting in May 2020, opted to send thousands of inadequately trained officers to mass protests challenging police conduct and authority, the results were predictable: mass arrests, excessive force, and protests Other unlawful attempts to suppress. ” Sue reads.

While many aggrieved protesters have sought monetary relief to quantify their injuries, the suit seeks a fully declaratory and injunctive relief, necessary to end decades of NYPD protests, police protests. Illegal practices in.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that he met with the Attorney General on Wednesday, “and we have a common goal: continue major police reform.”

“I could not agree more that such reforms can – and will – be reformed this year, which will be done this year, including the major reforms announced with the Obama Foundation pledge, the DOI and the Department of Law. All of the recommendations include 30 recommendations, and more., “De Blasio said.

“This work is important and is happening right now. An additional bureaucracy of a court process and a federal watchdog will not accomplish this task. There is no time to waste and we will continue to press forward,” he said.

A NYPD spokesman said the department “welcomes the reform and has accepted recent suggestions from both the city’s investigative department and the city’s law department.”

“As Meyer has said, adding another layer does not speed up the process of continuous improvement, which we have embraced and paved the way forward,” the spokesman said.

On May 28, 2020, during a “Black Lives Matter” demonstration in New York City, a NYPD officer’s guard raged at the death of a black man in Minnesota in gestures, including stabbing a white policeman’s neck for several minutes. Died after.

Johannes Isle | AFP | Getty Images

In a controversial behavior, the lawsuit does not allow “kettling” on the void, or corrupting protesters and dispersing them, sometimes for hours. The suit stated that the protesters were unlawfully detained under the practice.

It accuses the police of regularly arresting necessary personnel for violating curfew, despite the fact that they were exempted from it.

The lawsuit states that in one instance, police arrested one-night security guard, Zuleika Morales, who wore a badge around her neck, identifying her as an essential worker. According to the complaint, Morales decided to lodge a protest on the grounds that the police were using significant force.

“As he pressed the record, Morales realized that someone had come from behind him and attacked him, throwing him to the ground. While on the ground, he saw a NYPD officer with three stripes on his sleeve Saw, who was indicating the rank of Sergeant, was trying. ” Physically stop him, ”the suit says.

The suit states that the officer and at least two others “hit her head several times against the sidewalk and the street”, as she tried to convince that she was an essential worker.

“When she was on the ground, at least one officer obstructed her breathing by kneeling on her back and neck, she said, ‘I can’t breathe.” Morales repeated this several times and feared for his life, ”the suit states.

Moral was restrained by zip ties and arrested. Hours later, she lost consciousness and was rushed to the hospital and detected a hematoma of the head and was uprooted. According to the lawsuit, he was returned to police custody, and released the following morning with a criminal summons for violating the curfew.

Morales is one of more than a dozen individuals in the lawsuit who have been alleged victims of excessive force or unlawful detention. The suit stated that excessive force violations constituted most of the allegations of police misconduct that were reported between May 28 and June 20.

According to the suit, “Defendants knew or should have known that NYPD officers had the practice of using no additional force to control and disperse.” “On information and belief, defendants have not disciplined the vast majority of NYPD officers who used excessive force against Protestants.”

The filing comes as Democrats compare the aggressive police tactics used during racial justice protests to failed attempts to stop a mob of President Donald Trump supporters in the Capitol last week. The riots killed at least five people, including an American Capitol police officer.

“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have – they don’t get much treatment, much different than the multitude of thugs who stormed the Capitol, “President -lect Joe Biden said in an address after the DC riots last week.

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