Cops in Labor Day arrest of City councilman face disciplinary charges

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Three NYPD officers involved in the wrongful arrest of a City Councilman at the West Indian Day Carnival parade in Brooklyn have been disciplined by the department, according to the victim Jumaane D. Williams.

The Brooklyn legislator and Kirsten John, an aide to the New York City public advocate, were arrested near the end of the parade for allegedly violating parade rules.

Williams said the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) notified him that “there is sufficient evidence to discipline three officers involved” in their arrest.

“I am pleased that discipline will be meted out as a result of this incident, particularly that a supervising officer was held accountable,” he said.

“However, as I have said previously, this issue is bigger than Kirsten and I. This needs to be a teachable moment for the NYPD as to its unjust encounters with the hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino New Yorkers that are subject to a discriminatory police culture every day,” added Williams, who represents the largely Caribbean 45th Councilmanic District in Brooklyn.

“For real justice to be achieved their stories must be heard and policy change must occur. I hope Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg and Police Commissioner (Raymond) Kelly are just as serious as we are about achieving real justice and that they are willing to do what it takes to heal these communities and this city,” he continued.

Williams said he and Foy, who is also Black, had just finished participating in the parade when an NYPD supervising officer granted them permission to enter a barricaded area reserved for public officials.

He said after they entered the area, police officers “angrily confronted” them, refusing to acknowledge their credentials.

He said an officer shoved him after he attempted to communicate with a supervising officer on the other side of the barrier.

Williams said Foy was “thrown forcefully to the ground and handcuffed,” while officers grabbed him by the arm and also handcuffed him.

“This incident showed a real lack of leadership by supervising officers,” said Foy, director of community affairs for the city Public Advocate’s Office.

“I am concerned this is indicative of an opprobrious mindset towards the everyday New Yorker that is held by some officers responsible for the rank-and-file,” he said.

“We need to make sure that higher-ranking officials are held at a higher standard of accountability,” he added.

Shortly after the incident, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed complaints with the IAB on behalf of the officials.

Williams said he and Foy were sent a brief letter by IAB chief, Charles Campisi, confirming that an investigation had “partially substantiated” the complaint and that disciplinary action was taken.

“We are pleased that the NYPD is finally disciplining officers who have violated New Yorkers’ civil rights,” said NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman.

“But you shouldn’t have to be a public official to expect police officers guilty of mistreating you to be disciplined, she added.

“What about the indignities perpetuated every day on the streets on New York City? This issue is bigger than these individual police officers,” Lieberman continued. “Every police officer should get a basic civil rights lesson.”

While the IAB letters did not identify the officers who were disciplined or disclose the punishment they received, Lieberman said she has learned that the IAB determined that the officer who forced Foy to ground was “guilty of using excessive force and received Command Discipline B, which involves the loss of up to 10 vacation days and a permanent entry in his personnel file.”

“That officer’s supervisor also received Command Discipline B for failing to provide adequate supervision, though he will forfeit fewer vacation days than the first officer,” Lieberman said.

“A third officer received verbal instructions – essentially a lecture with nothing added to his personnel file – for not adequately informing other officers that he had allowed the public officials through the barricade,” she added.

“All three police officers will also apparently undergo some sort of training,” she continued.

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