NYPD Tapes 5: The Corroboration

Another police officer secretly tapes his precinct—this time in the Bronx

  • An investigation into Schoolcraft's allegations that crimes were being downgraded has been completed, police sources say. The NYPD has thus far ignored Voice requests to release the results of that investigation. While there is no official word on the outcome of the Quality Assurance Division investigation, police sources say that Mauriello's transfer is a clear indication that there was some merit to the Schoolcraft allegations.

  • A sergeant whose voice is heard repeatedly on the tapes was indicted, along with an 81st Precinct officer, for filing false arrest paperwork. Sergeant Raymond Stukes and Officer Hector Tirado claimed they had seen a man illegally selling untaxed cigarettes from out of a backpack. That man turned out to be an undercover Internal Affairs officer. During one roll tape, dating back to December 8, 2008, Stukes tells his cops, "You gotta commit a felony to get fired from this job. How simple is that?" He goes on to suggest that cops who don't hit their numbers will be punished, and essentially tells them to do stop-and-frisks ("250s" in police parlance) solely for the purpose of making a number. "This job is so easy," he says. "Just keep the hounds off. A parker. A 250. Someone walking down the street. So what? I did a 250. What's the big deal? He doesn't want to give you his information? Who cares? It's still a 250." Previously, the Voice withheld the names of Stukes and other lieutenants and sergeants from publication in the series, but Stukes's indictment by a Brooklyn Grand Jury makes what he said on the tapes a matter of public interest. The Stukes indictment confirms the existence of a practice that Schoolcraft had complained about: that officers were being asked to make arrests when they had not actually seen the misconduct. But the motive for Stukes's alleged behavior remains a mystery. Police sources surmised that either he saw the arrest as another quota number, or he was simply cutting a key corner in the arrest process.

  • Internal Affairs opened an investigation into how a series of sexual assault/robberies in an Upper Manhattan police precinct were classified as misdemeanors, allowing a predator to remain on the loose, police sources say. The case was the subject of part 3 of the Voice series ("NYPD Tapes 3: A Detective Comes Forward," June 9). The article disclosed that in late 2003, a man named Daryl Thomas got away with a series of attacks on women because supervisors in the 33rd Precinct misclassified several of his attacks as trespassing instead of sexual assault or burglary. Thomas's three-month crime spree ended by chance when an alert neighbor spotted him pushing his final victim into her apartment. Police officers responded and arrested him. It was only after the arrest that a detective, Harold Hernandez, figured out that Thomas's previous attacks had been misclassified. The current investigation is being handled by a unit known as Group One of Internal Affairs, which is tasked to probe allegations against senior-level NYPD commanders—captains and above, the sources say. The former commander of the 33rd Precinct, Jason Wilcox, has been interviewed by investigators. A half-dozen case files have been pulled and reviewed. Investigators have also spoken with others working in the precinct at the time.

    Christopher Bienz was fired as a probationary officer assigned to Queens, in part, he says, because he resisted making low-level arrests and issuing summonses to hit quotas. At one point, he says, he told a supervisor, "This is not what I came on the job to do."
    C.S. Muncy
    Christopher Bienz was fired as a probationary officer assigned to Queens, in part, he says, because he resisted making low-level arrests and issuing summonses to hit quotas. At one point, he says, he told a supervisor, "This is not what I came on the job to do."
    Councilman Al Vann, other political figures, and clergy in Brooklyn are pressuring Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to take action.
    C.S. Muncy
    Councilman Al Vann, other political figures, and clergy in Brooklyn are pressuring Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to take action.

    Details

    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

    The NYPD Tapes, Part 4
    The WhistleBlower, Adrian Schoolcraft

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

  • In response to disclosures in the Voice and The New York Times about police downgrading sexual assault cases, the NYPD created a panel that may eventually recommend more training for police officers.

  • Frank Palestro, a police union delegate in the 42nd Precinct in the Bronx, is reportedly alleging that after he called Internal Affairs to report a corruption allegation, his precinct lieutenant found out about it and ordered him transferred. He says that his lieutenant ordered cops to write fake summonses, refused to take criminal complaints, and tampered with a crime scene.

  • The Voice series sparked public outcry among residents, elected officials, and clergy in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and it was discussed in several public hearings in Brooklyn and Harlem. One speaker was David Miller, who says that his 21-year-old son has been summonsed 50 times over the years by 81st Precinct officers. In one case, he was charged with trespassing for being in the parking lot of a local pharmacy. His father had sent him there to pick up a prescription for diabetes. "There was no complainant," Miller says. "How do you give someone a ticket when there's no one complaining?" On another occasion, he was ticketed for standing in front of a grocery store and talking to friends. In a third, he was ticketed for an open container because officers saw a bag filled with empty beer cans in the front yard. The cans were awaiting a recycling pickup. In a debate in June, the Democratic candidates for attorney general said they were shocked by the disclosures in the Voice series, and made pledges to investigate the validity of the NYPD crime statistics, if elected. The group Picture the Homeless held two public protests to highlight the NYPD's questionable use of the disorderly conduct charge to get people off the streets. Statistics obtained by the Voice show that in more than 50 percent of these low-level arrests, the charges are dismissed.

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