A federal judge has blocked the city from taking whistleblower cop Adrian Schoolcraft to a departmental trial in an effort to fire him.
After reporting allegations of police misconduct in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct, Schoolcraft was dragged from his apartment on October 31, 2009, by police and forced into the Jamaica Hospital psych ward.
The NYPD’s decision earlier this year to pursue their disciplinary case against the officer came as something of a surprise.
In 2009 and 2010, Schoolcraft was charged with around two dozen counts for leaving work early, for failing to respond to department summonses, for failure to obey an order, for being away without leave, etc. Back in early 2010, when he refused to show up for work, and at any point thereafter, the NYPD could have tried him and fired him.
Instead, he has become a unique case in the history of the NYPD disciplinary process: an officer suspended without pay for nearly four years. City rules allow the department to summarily dismiss any officer who is AWOL for more than five days
For whatever reason, the department decided to hold off–possibly because firing a whistle blowing officer wouldn’t have looked so good. And so the case has been in limbo for three years.
Last January, Schoolcraft, who had previously said he would never return to the NYPD, asked to be reinstated but assigned to non-enforcement duties. In response, the NYPD rejected that request and notified him of its intent to take him to trial, and even set a trial date for this week. His lawyers opposed the move, arguing the trial would prevent him from having a fair trial on his federal lawsuit.
The city, meanwhile, argued that under the law the administrative trial had to be held before his lawsuit went to trial. “It is plaintiff alone who chose to bring this Section 1983 action despite the fact that his administrative trial, and the issues surrounding it, have not been resolved,” the city’s motion says. “Thus, the argument that he will have to divert resources to both cases simultaneously is certainly not a surprise to plaintiff and his counsel, nor is it a sufficient basis to stay the administrative trial.”
The motion also revealed some of the city’s thinking on police forcing Schoolcraft into the psych ward: “City defendants believe there was probable cause for plaintiffs detention and classification as an emotionally disturbed person (‘EDP’) on October 31, 2009,” the brief says.
Meanwhile, the tentative trial date set for September seems ever more untenable, especially since not one witness has been deposed by the plaintiffs in nearly three years.
Send your tips to Graham Rayman at firstname.lastname@example.org