NYPD Tapes 4: The WhistleBlower, Adrian Schoolcraft

He wanted his bosses to know about NYPD misconduct. So they put him in a mental ward

A paramedic arrives and asks him what's wrong. "I was just having stomach pains," Schoolcraft says. "They're embellishing this."

As the paramedics start to check his blood pressure, Marino is heard haranguing Schoolcraft: "Listen to me, I'm a chief in the New York City Police Department. So this is what's going to happen, my friend. You've disobeyed an order. And the way you're acting is not right."

"Chief, if you were woken up in your house . . ." Schoolcraft replies.

Schoolcraft waits for word about his status with the NYPD.
Graham Rayman
Schoolcraft waits for word about his status with the NYPD.
Schoolcraft's fateful digital recorder.
Schoolcraft's fateful digital recorder.


The Voice presents excerpts from "The NYPD Tapes: Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct."

FEBRUARY 20, 2009
"If We Like You, You Get a Certain Thing. If We Don't Like You, You Get a Certain Thing."

In this excerpt, Adrian Schoolcraft meets with Lieutenant Rafael Mascol, who makes a series of unguarded remarks about how the NYPD rates officers.

OCTOBER 31, 2009
"What is this, Russia?"

In this recorded excerpt from Schoolcraft's apartment, deputy chief Michael Marino demands that Schoolcraft, who'd gone home early feeling sick, return to the precinct. Schoolcraft refuses.

OCTOBER 31, 2009
"Son, You Got a Choice. What Is It Gonna Be?"

Deputy chief Marino demands that Schoolcraft go to the hospital. Schoolcraft refuses. He was then thrown to the floor, handcuffed, dragged from his Queens apartment, and taken against his will to a psychiatric ward at Jamaica Hospital.

NYPD Tapes: The Series
The NYPD Tapes Part 1
Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct
The NYPD Tapes, Part 2
Bed-Stuy street cops ordered: Turn this place into a ghost town
The NYPD Tapes, Part 3
A Detective Comes Forward About Downgraded Sexual Assaults

Follow continuing coverage of the NYPD Tapes here at our Runnin' Scared blog.

"Stop right there!" Marino says.

". . . how would you behave?" Schoolcraft asks.

"Stop right there, son. I'm doin' the talkin' right now. Not you," Marino thunders.

"In my apartment," Schoolcraft says. "What is this, Russia?"

"You are going to be suspended," Marino says.

The paramedic says that Schoolcraft's blood pressure is very high. He agrees to go to a hospital, thinking they would take him to his hospital in Forest Hills, Queens. He walks downstairs with the paramedics, but then he's told he's being taken to Jamaica Hospital.

"I was willing to go to Forest Hills, but not Jamaica," he says. "I turned around and said 'I'm RMA,' and I went back and lay on the bed."

In police parlance, "RMA" means "refusing medical attention," the right of any citizen. When Lauterborn tells Schoolcraft he's in trouble, he replies, "If I did something wrong, write me up."

It was then that Chief Marino lost his temper, according to the tape. "Listen to me, they are going to treat you like an EDP [emotionally disturbed person]," he says. "Now, you have a choice. You get up like a man and put your shoes on and walk into that bus, or they're going to treat you as an EDP and that means handcuffs."

Schoolcraft tells the chief that he is the one pushing the confrontation.

Marino then orders Schoolcraft placed in handcuffs. "All right, just take him," he says. "I can't fucking stand him anymore."

At that point, various officers grab him.

"So they pulled me off the bed, stomping on me," Schoolcraft says. "They had me all twisted up, hands all over me. Someone grabbed my hair. . . . Marino stepped on my face with his boot. That's when he said it didn't have to be like this. They basically beat the shit out of me."

Once Schoolcraft was cuffed, Marino sat on his bed. A sergeant found the tape recorder. Marino grabbed it and put in his pocket. Schoolcraft didn't see that tape recorder again—but he had another one rolling that Marino did not find.

Jamaica Hospital records obtained by the Voice indicate that police gave intentionally misleading information to the medical staff about Schoolcraft's behavior that night, which caused them to treat him as a psychiatric patient.

The records show that a sergeant from the 81st Precinct told Dr. Khin Marlwin that Schoolcraft had "left his work early after getting agitated and cursing his supervisor." She also told Marlwin that police had "followed him home and he had barricaded himself, and the door had to be broken to get to him."

None of these statements are true.

James also told doctors that Schoolcraft "initially agreed to go with them for evaluation, but once outside, he ran and had to be chased. . . ."

This is also untrue, based on the tape recording, and the paramedics' report, which says, "He turned around and stated he did not need help and walked away."

Jamaica Hospital spokesman Ole Peterson declined to comment on the Schoolcraft case, but he said, "We have to take the word of whoever is coming in with him, and make a decision based on what they tell us. If there is an issue, the issue is with the Police Department."

In the emergency room, Schoolcraft was cuffed to a gurney. When he asked for his cuffs to be loosened, a lieutenant told him, "I bet you wish now you had come back to the 81 like you were told."

Later, Schoolcraft asked for Internal Affairs. He was ignored.

A sign above the nurses' station read: "We are here to help you."

After 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, two new sergeants came in. They, too, ignored him when he asked for his cuffs to be loosened. The doctors and nurses ignored him as well. (Schoolcraft, meanwhile, had not been charged with a crime.)

"They arrested me unlawfully. They detained me without a warrant," he says. "I asked what my charges were. They said I was being 'uncooperative.' "

On Monday morning, 18 hours after he had been brought to the hospital, an Internal Affairs officer arrived and told Schoolcraft to contact him after he got out of the hospital.

After six days of being held against his will, Schoolcraft was allowed to go home.

He was provided with a discharge sheet that included the relatively benign and vague diagnosis of "anxiety."

After the hospital stay, he was suspended. He met with civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, and then left the city for his father's upstate home. A few weeks later, he received the bill from the hospital for $7,000.

"The standard for involuntary commitment is imminent danger to himself or others," Siegel says. "It's suspect that those grounds existed here under mental health law. At a minimum, they violated his civil rights."

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