False Arrest and Police Brutality Attorneys Discuss the Eroding Credibility of Police Officers, and What It Might Mean for Criminal Defendants and Civil Plaintiffs

Posted By Galluzzo & Arnone LLP || 26-Oct-2011

Recently, the news media has published numerous reports of corrupt and out-of-control New York police officers. The federal authorities arrested eight current and former police officers for running an illegal gun-running operation, approximately 17 police officers were indicted for a ticket-fixing scandal in the Bronx; another officer was arrested for attempting to steal from a supposed drug dealer’s apartment; a narcotics officer recently testified to widespread falsification of charges and the routine planting of drugs on innocent individuals in the trial of another corrupt police officer; a racist cop in Staten Island admitted to framing a black man and calling him a racial epithet; a deputy inspector was captured on video sucker-punching a protestor in the face for no apparently good reason; a drug addict claims that she was given crack by a police officer and forced to perform oral sex on him, a Brooklyn police captain was taped instructing his officers to fulfill ticket “quotas”, and last year four police officers shot a young man over a dozen times despite the fact that he was totally innocent of any crime (the last case, incidentally, was handled by the authors of this blog).

For years (and especially in the wake of September 11), the majority of New Yorkers believed that their police officers were heroes, and thus were willing to accept their testimony as gospel. Many also assumed that the accusations of police corruption were just the rantings and ravings of liberal radicals, criminals looking for excuses, or their attorneys. However, the current media onslaught of confirmed police misconduct has forced more and more people to accept what for them may be an uncomfortable reality: THERE ARE A LOT OF CORRUPT AND DANGEROUS POLICE OFFICERS IN THE NYPD. (Which is to say nothing of the New York corrections officer that recently was arrested after trying to accept cocaine and cash from a prisoner in exchange for helping that prisoner escape from Riker’s Island.) The authors of this blog are cautiously optimistic that as the public gains more and more awareness about police corruption, criminal defendants and civil claimants will be more successful in convincing juries that they were victims of misconduct, abuse, and/or false arrests.

This is not to say that every police officer is corrupt. Indeed, the authors of this blog include three former prosecutors that count numerous police officers and detectives among their friends, and they appreciate and have tremendous respect for the police officers that conduct themselves properly in what is unquestionably a difficult job. Nevertheless, the inescapable truth to be gleaned from these reports above is that not all police officers are telling the truth about the people that they have arrested, or about the facts of those arrests. To those who say that these known corrupt officers represent just a small minority of the force, it is fair to respond that the majority of corrupt police officers probably aren’t being caught. Perhaps most unsettling to the author is the apparent unwillingness of the “good officers” to call out or report the corrupt “bad officers” around them. In short, the mindset of the Blue Wall of Silence appears to persist to this day.

One of the root causes of false arrests is that police are encouraged – and even incentivized – to make arrests. We have heard recordings of a police captain in Brooklyn ordering his officers to fulfill a ticket-writing quota, and the cooperating police officer in the trial discussed above testified that narcotics officers were expected to make a certain number of arrests per month, or suffer consequences. Moreover, police officers can make a significant amount of overtime (paid as time-and-a-half) by making and processing arrests and then coming to court on their RDO’s (regular days off) to testify at court in the grand jury.

Some of the most common false arrest charges include the vague Disorderly Conduct (Penal Law 240.20), Resisting Arrest (Penal Law 205.30), and Obstructing Government Administration (Penal Law 195.05). These charges are very common in cases of police brutality, in that they are used to justify the use of force and “cover-up” the injuries the falsely arrested person suffered at the hands of the police. These cover-ups can be “necessary” in the minds of the officers in cases where they suspect that the arrested person will contact Internal Affairs (IAB), the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), and/or file civil lawsuits against them for police brutality. Police officers can also easily falsify charges of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree (Penal Law 220.03), and Criminal Trespass (Penal Law 145.00).

If you or a loved one have been falsely arrested or been the victim of police brutality, you should strongly consider the aggressive and intelligent lawyers at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP. Their team of former prosecutors specializes in criminal defense and civil rights, meaning that they can both defend you against false criminal charges and/or pursue lawsuits against the police officers that violated your constitutional rights. They have had exceptional success defending people against criminal charges in high-profile cases involving false arrest and police brutality, and also have experience pursuing huge civil lawsuits against the NYPD. Give them a call to schedule a free appointment and assessment of your case, and to discuss whether they can help you.

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