Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly’s top aide Paul Browne, the department spokesman, was present when cops forcibly hauled NYPD whistleblower Adrian Schoolcraft to the Jamaica Hospital psychiatric ward, a lawsuit to be filed this week alleges.
If proven true, Browne’s presence at Schoolcraft’s home on Oct. 31, 2009 suggests that Commissioner Kelly was aware of the decision by Deputy Chief Michael Marino to order Schoolcraft handcuffed and dragged from his own apartment just three weeks after he reported police misconduct to the unit which audits NYPD crime statistics. Browne’s presence raises a whole host of new questions about the Schoolcraft matter, which was the subject of a four part Village Voice series.
Schoolcraft’s lawsuit seeks $50 million from the city, and names 17 police officials as part of campaign to marginalize him, ignore his efforts to report misconduct, and ultimately violate his civil rights and falsely arrest and falsely imprison him for six days in a mental institution.
Among those also named in the lawsuit are Brooklyn North Patrol Chief Gerald Nelson, and Sgt. Raymond Stukes, who was recently indicted for filing a false arrest report. He also names doctors at Jamaica Hospital alleging they also violated his rights.
Schoolcraft, an 8-year veteran of the NYPD made secret recordings of events in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct for more than 18 months in an effort to build evidence of what he saw as questionable activities in the precinct.
He repeatedly tried to report the alleged wrongdoing inside the department, and was even working on a report to the police commissioner which would have outlined his concerns. (That report was one of the items seized under questionable circumstances by police when he was committed. None of those items, including files and a digital recorder have been returned.)
Eventually, he turned over those tapes to the Village Voice, which published a four part series titled “The NYPD Tapes” that reported manipulation of crime statistics, the existence of quotas for arrests, summonses and stop and frisks combined with threats of disciplinary action, and orders that may have led to civil rights violations and violations of the probable cause and reasonable suspicion standards.
The series also reported downgrading of crime complaints, refusal to take complaints, pressuring crime victims to change their accounts, stop and frisks were ordered simply to hit quotas, and that police gave Jamaica Hospital false information about Schoolcraft’s behavior that led doctors there to classify him as a psychiatric patient.
The lawsuit is the latest step in a controversy which has led so far to the transfer of the precinct commander, Steven Mauriello, an outcry among residents, clergy and elected officials in Bed-Stuy and several internal investigations into issues raised in the Voice series. Those investigations are still ongoing.
The lawsuit repeats much of what has already been published in the Voice about the Schoolcraft matter, and quotes from the same tapes used in the series.
He claims that the quota policy was tied directly to performance evaluations, and officers would be punished for not reaching their quotas. Those orders came, he alleges, from the top officials in the NYPD.
He alleges that when he resisted the quota pressure, his supervisors began a campaign of retaliation and intimidation against him. He claims that another police officer told him a sergeant was overheard saying he was going to have Schoolcraft pushed out of the department on psychiatric grounds.
He alleges that officers were ordered to make arrests and issue summonses without probable cause, even when no criminal activity was taking place.
The lawsuit says that Schoolcraft reported to Internal Affairs in August, 2009 an incident in which a lieutenant and a sergeant entered a locked file room in the stationhouse and illegally removed documents.
Soon thereafter, his supervisors became aware that he had gone to IAB because Internal Affairs detectives left several messages for him at the precinct.
At one point, the lawsuit says, Schoolcraft’s father, Larry, contacted Mayor Bloomberg’s office to report instances of corruption at the precinct observed by his son. There is no evidence that Bloomberg’s office did anything about that call.
On Oct. 31, Schoolcraft says he was ordered to surrender his memobook by Lt. Timothy Caughey, who then made copies of pages in the book, which contained Schoolcraft’s record of improper actions and statements by precinct supervisors. Then, Caughey allegedly acted in a threatening manner toward Schoolcraft, sparking his decision to go home early. The forcible arrest and commitment to Jamaica Hospital followed, that evening.
The lawsuit also offers a window into his hospital stay amid appalling conditions. He was handcuffed to a gurney and treated like a common criminal. He wasn’t allowed to use the phone. He was given a hospital gown to wear, and nothing else. The lights didn’t go off.
One of his fellow patients combed his hair with his feces. Another repeatedly tried to force herself to vomit. Others screamed and yelled until they were sedated.
The stay lasted for six days, even though doctors noted that Schoolcraft had “no psychiatric symptoms.” Still, one of the doctors, Isak Isakov, insisted on waiting to hear from the NYPD before releasing him.
“As a result of the foregoing, Schoolcraft was deprived of his liberty, was denied fundamental constitutional rights, was publicly embarrassed and humiliated, was caused to suffer severe emotional distress, was caused to suffer physical injuries to his head, neck, back and arms, was involuntarily confined to hospital treatment, was forced to incur substantial expenses, had his personal and professional reputation destroyed, and lost his livelihood as a police officer,” the lawsuit states.