David Perecman Weighs In On Report Findings Of Light Discipline For NYPD Chokeholds

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New York civil rights violation lawyer David Perecman weighs in on a new NYPD inspector general report that found a lack of punishment for the use of prohibited chokeholds by officers.

New York civil rights violation lawyer

The Perecman Firm

The seriousness of the report, the police department’s history of problems with excessive use of force, and the department’s inability to enforce the rules call for stronger action.

The Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD issued a report on how officers continue to apply chokeholds on people during arrests in spite of the maneuver being banned from the force in 1993. Chokeholds are strictly prohibited by Section 203-11 of the Patrol Guide, without exception.

The 45-page report from the Inspector General details the circumstances surrounding ten cases in which NYPD officers used a chokehold during an arrest between 2009 and 2014. All ten cases happened prior to the chokehold death of Eric Garner, reported MSNBC News (1.12.15). Each case had a similar outcome for the officers involved. Most were simply instructed on department policy and never disciplined regardless of either the circumstances or what the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) recommended.

“The NYPD needs greater accountability and it likely needs to come from outside the department,” said Attorney at Law David Perecman. “The seriousness of the report, the police department’s history of problems with excessive use of force, and the department’s inability to enforce the rules call for stronger action.”

In nine of the 10 cases, the CCRB recommended the most serious punishment for those officers, which could include suspension or termination. Not a single substantiated case of police chokeholds went to trial in front of the NYPD Trial Commissioner. In fact, in every case in which an officer used a chokehold, the NYPD rejected all findings and disciplinary recommendations given by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, said the report.

The report stated, "In fact, there was no indication from the records reviewed that NYPD seriously contemplated CCRB’s disciplinary recommendations or that CCRB’s input added any value to the disciplinary process."

In six out of ten chokehold cases, it was determined that discipline for the officers was needed. In each of these cases, the Police Commissioner made a final disciplinary determination that was nothing close to the disciplinary recommendation of the Civilian Complaint Review Board. The officers received a less severe penalty or, in two cases, no penalty at all. The Police Commissioner provided no explanation for these disciplinary decisions, said the report.

The report also determined that in several of the ten cases reviewed, NYPD officers used banned chokeholds “as a first act of physical force in response to verbal resistance, as opposed to first attempting to defuse the situation.” NYPD officers are trained on how to verbally de-escalate conflicts, so there would be no need to start with a chokehold.

According to MSNBC News, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association responded to the report by calling it an example of “anti-police bias” from which “no systemic conclusions can be drawn.”

Based on the overall findings of the report, immediate policy changes were recommended. Also, as specified in the report, the office of the inspector general will take a much broader, statistically-significant look at the case files related to “determine whether these are systemic or widespread problems”

“Officers should be held accountable for using dangerous and prohibited police practices. Those who use excessive force will not alter their behavior if they are allowed to operate above the law,” said Perecman.

The MSNBC story is “Report: NYPD officers rarely punished for chokeholds.”

About David Perecman and The Perecman Firm, PLLC:

For the past 30 years, the New York construction accident, medical malpractice, auto accident, personal injury, and civil rights violation lawyers at The Perecman Firm, PLLC have handled all types of civil rights violation cases. David Perecman, founder of the Firm, has been recognized for his achievements as an Honoree in the National Law Journal's Hall of Fame, in New York Magazine's "The Best Lawyers in America" and The New York Times Magazine "New York Super Lawyers, Metro Edition" for the years 2007-2014. The prestigious U.S. News & World Report ranks The Perecman Firm among the top 20 personal injury firms in New York City for the years 2011-2015.

The Firm has recovered millions of dollars for its clients. Among the more recent victories, Mr. Perecman won a $15 million verdict** for a construction accident (Index 112370/03) Supreme Court, New York County, a $5.35 million dollar verdict*** for an automobile accident (Index 2749/04) Supreme Court, Kings County, and a $40 million dollar structured settlement for medical malpractice (Index 2146/03)****Supreme Court, Kings County.

The Perecman Firm serves Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, Westchester, Upstate NY, Morris County, and Rockland County.

**later settled while on appeal for $7.940 million    
*** later settled for $3.5 million
**** total potential payout

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