Last month, the NYPD was hit with at least six bad raid lawsuits, including faulty incursions into a 76-year-old woman’s apartment, and a residence occupied by a married couple and two five-year-old kids, court records show. A police officers named in one of the lawsuits has already cost the city nearly $1 million in civil rights settlements.
The lawsuits are troubling because they recalled a mistaken raid that led to the death of Harlem resident Alberta Spruill in 2003. The ensuing controversy forced Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to promise numerous reforms following that incident. One wonders just how effective those reforms were. From 2008 to 2010, the annual cost of settling NYPD lawsuits of all types rose from $80 million to $117 million to $136 million.
Lorene Clark, who is 76 years old, Shaney Clark, Reginald Jackson and Earl Washington claim that on July 13, 2011, cops broke down their door at around 6 a.m. An officer struck the 76-year-old Lorene with a plastic shield, and struck and handcuffed the others in the house. Two kids, ages 13 and 6, were also in the house at the time.
Despite a search by a dog, the police didn’t find any narcotics in the apartment. The two Clarks and Jackson were taken to the precinct and then released without charges. Washington, arrested about 12 hours later, was also put through the system, only to be released without charges.
Meanwhile, Georginyea Moreno and Ricardo Nelson also sued, claiming another bad raid of a Brooklyn apartment by police. That one happened on July 29, 2011. They claim the police entered their apartment without a warrant, rousted them out of bed. A search of the apartment and strip searches of the two occupants yielded no drugs or other contraband. Both arrests resulted in dismissals of the charges.
In yet another bad raid case filed last month, Andrena Cobb and Khiry Cobb claim police entered their Brooklyn apartment on April 23, 2010, and ransacked the bedroom of Cobb’s daughter, who had died a week earlier. They claim police stole jewelry from the apartment and damaged furniture. All charges were dismissed. And the Cobb’s claim police denied Andrena her emphysema medication.
Ramatu Bassey, 56, and her 16-year-old grandson sued last month also for a mistaken raid, also in Brooklyn. They claim police put a gun to the teenager’s head, and held them in a Manhattan precinct all day, until they released them without charges. Police also seized Bassey’s car.
Jerry and Judith Carter; Monique Evans, Ebony Bolston, George Evans, and two five-year-old kids also sued last month, claiming again an early morning raid that went wrong. They claim that on December 1, 2011, at 5 a.m.police broke into the apartment, searched it thoroughly, damaging their possessions, but found no contraband and made no arrests. The Carters, their lawsuit says, lived in the apartment for 19 years without incident.
Carlos Myrie claims that narcotics officers burst into Brooklyn home early in the morning on Oct. 22, 2010. Myrie alleges that one of the officers, Det. Darnay Harris, struck him with a plastic shield, gashing his forehead.
Harris, the lawsuit notes, has been sued six other times dating from 2006 on. The settlements in those cases cost the city $789,000, and yet he’s still on the job.
“The city has isolated NYPD officers from accountability for its civil rights lawsuits, and as a result, is preventing those lawsuits from having any deterrent value to the city, the NYPD or its officers,” the lawsuit alleges. “Civil rights lawsuits against police officers have no impact on the officers’ careers, regardless of the expense to the city.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 15, 2012