Officers in Denver, Austin, Santa Rosa, Calif., and other places have also faced punishments for roughing up people who rallied peacefully after the killing of Floyd, who died after former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. In Oakland, officials recently reprimanded or suspended about two dozen officers for violations that included improperly deploying tear gas against protesters.
The board investigated hundreds of complaints after the demonstrations and substantiated allegations against 65 officers. The complaints involve a range of alleged violations, including improper use of force, abuse of authority, discourtesy and making untruthful statements.
“After fully investigating over a hundred cases, the CCRB continues its commitment to investigating, and when necessary, prosecuting the officers responsible for committing misconduct against New Yorkers during last year’s Black Lives Matter protests,” CCRB chair Fred Davie said in a statement to local media.
The board recommended serving charges — the most serious type of discipline — against 37 officers. Those police will face an administrative prosecution by the NYPD and could be fired, suspended or lose vacation time if they’re found guilty.
The other 28 officers were accused of misconduct that was less severe but could still result in them losing vacation days or having to participate in mandatory training, according to the board.
In total, the board received 313 complaints stemming from the protests that fell within its jurisdiction and has closed 210 to date.
The board said it has struggled to investigate about a third of the complaints because it hasn’t been able to identify the officers involved.
“The CCRB has seen unprecedented challenges in investigating these complaints particularly around the identification of officers due to the failure to follow proper protocols, officers covering their names and shield, officers wearing protective equipment that did not belong to them, the lack of proper use of body worn cameras, as well as incomplete and severely delayed paperwork,” the board said.
Sgt. Edward Riley, an NYPD spokesman, said in an emailed statement that the department had provided hundreds of hours of body-camera footage and thousands of pages of records to the CCRB. He said officials were moving forward with the board in adjudicating the cases in its latest report.
“The NYPD has made significant strides and continues to work toward making our discipline processes transparent,” Riley said. “Like any citizen, police officers should be afforded a presumption of innocence until and unless proven guilty.”
Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of New York City, the largest labor union representing NYPD officers, decried the review board’s recommendations to The Post, saying officers were sent into the crowd “with no plan, no strategy and no support.”
“As a result, dozens of cops were injured, and now dozens more are being made into scapegoats,” he said in an emailed statement. “It’s time for the NYPD to stop allowing CCRB to use its disciplinary process as a political tool.”
The harsh crackdown by police last year prompted a flurry of lawsuits and investigations over the following months. In January, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) sued the department, accusing NYPD officers of using unnecessary force against protesters “repeatedly and without justification.”
“Protesters — many of whom were never charged with any crime and were merely exercising their First Amendment rights — suffered concussions, broken bones, cuts, bruises, and other physical injuries,” the lawsuit says.
City investigators later concluded in a June report that some officers’ actions violated the First Amendment rights of protesters and found that commanders relied too heavily on tactics normally used in riot control. Individual protesters have also sued police, claiming officers roughed them up and held them for hours in crowded cells in violation of a state law requiring them to be released quickly.
Law enforcement advocates note that police also faced violence during the demonstrations. Police vehicles were torched, and multiple officers were injured when people in the crowd threw objects at them. An NYPD sergeant was hit by a car in the Bronx while responding to looting.
In an interview Monday night, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) praised the recommendations from the review board, saying his administration’s efforts to hold police accountable were working.
“When individual officers don’t comport themselves the right way, it really hurts the relationship between police and community,” he told NY1. “But this accountability also sends a message, that if someone’s done the wrong thing, even if it’s a small number of officers in the scheme of things, there will be consequences.”