Queens DA Taking a Look At How NYPD Whistleblower Wound Up in Psych Ward [Update]
It looks like Queens District Attorney Richard Brown is taking renewed interest at the events surrounding how the NYPD wound up forcing Officer Adrian Schoolcraft into the Jamaica Hospital psychiatric ward for six days back in late 2009.
Last week, Leonard Levitt, who writes an internet column on the inner workings of the NYPD, reported that Schoolcraft's lawyers had sent off permission for Brown's office to examine Jamaica Hospital's records on the officer, along with digital recordings of the Oct. 31, 2009 incident in Schoolcraft's apartment.
Levitt left it vague who exactly initiated this renewed interest in the 16-month old controversy. Schoolcraft lawyer Jon Norinsberg was also somewhat vague, but he said, "We were informed they had an interest in pursuing something, and we wanted to facilitate any type of investigation they wanted to perform."
"Our focus right now is moving forward with the civil litigation and discovery," Norinsberg added.
[Update here:] "We did receive information from Schoolcraft, but beyond that, we're going to decline to comment," says Brown spokesman Kevin Ryan. Ryan noted the file will be handled by the Integrity Bureau, which investigates "allegations of corruption and brutality leveled against members of the law enforcement community and violations of the public trust by public officials, municipal employees and attorneys," according to the Queens DA's website.
As Voice readers know, Schoolcraft had made allegations of misconduct in Brooklyn's 81st Precinct to NYPD investigators on Oct. 7. On Oct. 31, he went home about an hour early from work. That evening, a dozen cops arrived at his home, including his precinct commander, Steven Mauriello, Deputy Chief Michael Marino, and other police supervisors, ostensibly acting on claims that Schoolcraft was at risk of hurting himself.
The encounter ended with Marino ordering Schoolcraft taken to Jamaica Hospital for observation. The officer was pushed to the ground, handcuffed and dragged from his apartment. At the hospital, he was forcibly held in the psych ward for the next six days without explanation.
In a tape of the incident made by Schoolcraft, he appears to be fairly calm relative to the situation, and make no claims that he wants to hurt himself or others--the legal standard by which police can classify someone as an "emotionally disturbed person" and take them to a hospital.
Schoolcraft subsequently went public with allegations that crime complaints were being "shitcanned" in the 81, while cops were under constant pressure to hit quotas. He provided 117 digital recordings to the Voice to back up his claims. The Voice wrote a five-part series stemming from the recordings and other allegations of crime stat manipulation.
Schoolcraft alleges in a lawsuit that the NYPD retaliated against him for making those allegations. He is currently suspended without pay.
Even as the department has publicly disputed Schoolcraft's allegations and criticized others who questioned the department's crime statistics, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has taken a series of steps to deal with the scandal.
He has transferred Mauriello and Marino. He has charged Mauriello and three other 81 precinct cops with manipulating crime stats. He appointed a deputy inspector to review the case, and more recently, named a panel of three former federal prosecutors to conduct a review of the department's crime statistics.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.