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Civilian board pursues nearly 300 complaints about NYPD handling of George Floyd protests

Police stand guard near looted stores on Broadway

Police stand guard near looted stores on Broadway during a night of protests and vandalism over the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020, in Manhattan. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Nearly 300 complaints about NYPD misconduct during last summer’s protest sparked by the killing of George Floyd are under investigation by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, down from the 750 allegations initially made by the public, according to an agency spokesman.

CCRB officials didn’t have available Monday the precise nature of the allegations against cops stemming from the protests that took place from May 28 to about June 3 of 2020.

But according to a recent report from the Department of Investigations about the NYPD handling of the protests, a total of 1,646 allegations covering 248 incidents were received by the CCRB. The DOI reported that about 64% of the allegations involved claims of excessive force, 22% abuse of authority and the remainder claims of discourtesy and offensive language.

After the DOI released its report the number of incidents—which cover more than one allegation of wrongdoing—grew to 300, said CCRB spokesman Ethan Teicher.

"The majority are ongoing," Teicher said in an email.

The remainder of the initial complaints could not be pursued by the CCRB and were either transferred to another agency or dismissed for lack of evidence or other reasons.

The pending CCRB probes, some of which could lead to officers being brought up on disciplinary charges and departmental trials, come as the NYPD’s internal affairs bureau is reviewing 60 videotapes compiled by civilians and Floyd protesters. They allegedly depict cops using excessive force, abusing their authority or using foul language, Chief Matthew Pontillo told Newsday in a recent interview.

Over 600 protests over the death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police took place in New York City last summer, said Pontillo. Many of them were peaceful, but some blocked traffic and were unlawful and others violent, said Pontillo.

NYPD officials have said that over 400 cops were injured during the protests and scores of police vehicles damaged or destroyed, particularly during the nights of May 28 and May 29. Hundreds of protesters reportedly were injured as well. Looting also damaged or destroyed numerous businesses in Manhattan and the Bronx.

The size and virulence of some of the protests caught NYPD officials off guard, Commissioner Dermot Shea has said publicly. In one instance Chief of Department Terence Monahan was slightly injured on the Brooklyn Bridge where other cops were bloodied.

Still, Shea was disturbed by the way some cops handled the protests and in June announced that he suspended one probationary officer for firing mace at a group of bystanders and placed another officer on modified duty after he opened the door of an unmarked police vehicle on a Brooklyn street striking a protester. That officer’s case was under review for possible discipline, said Shea. The NYPD had no updates of those cases Monday.

Meanwhile, in October, the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society had filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan on behalf of 11 protesters against Mayor Bill de Blasio, Shea, Monahan and scores of other NYPD officers. The suit alleged that the NYPD infringed on the constitutional rights of protestors through the use of pepper spray , batons and other "aggressive techniques."

The suit said the city allowed "individual officers to violently target protestors by repeatedly approving forceful deployments and refusing discipline or repercussions for blatant officer misconduct," according to a statement by the NYCLU and Legal Aid when the lawsuit was filed.

Earlier this year New York Attorney General Letitia James also sued the city and the NYPD in federal court over the way the protests were handled and asked for the appointment of a monitor to oversee police handling of protests.

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