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Attorney General Letitia James sues NYPD for ‘excessive and unlawful’ handling of BLM protests

New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing the New York City Police Department and its leadership over their ‘excessive, brutal and unlawful’ handling of Black Lives Matter protests last year.

As part of the filing, James is requesting the police department installs a federal monitor to oversee their policing tactics.

The ‘landmark’ suit, filed in the Southern District of New York on Thursday, names Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, Chief of Department Terence Monahan and Mayor Bill de Blasio as defendants.

It comes as the culmination of a months-long investigation into the NYPD’s actions during racial injustice protests in the Big Apple from May through December, which erupted after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota on Memorial Day.

‘We found a pattern of deeply concerning and unlawful practices that the NYPD utilized in response to these largely peaceful protests,’ James said in a Thursday news conference, adding the ‘pattern of abuse’ stemmed from inadequate training, supervision and discipline.

‘As the demonstrations continued, the very thing being protested — aggressive actions of law enforcement — was on full public display.’

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New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing the New York City Police Department and its leadership over the ¿excessive, brutal and unlawful¿ handling of Black Lives Matter protests last year

New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing the New York City Police Department and its leadership over the ¿excessive, brutal and unlawful¿ handling of Black Lives Matter protests last year

New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing the New York City Police Department and its leadership over the ‘excessive, brutal and unlawful’ handling of Black Lives Matter protests last year

It comes as the culmination following a months-long investigation into the NYPD's actions during racial injustice protests in the Big Apple from May through December (Pictured: NYPD officers arrest protesters during a demonstration against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, on May 30)

It comes as the culmination following a months-long investigation into the NYPD's actions during racial injustice protests in the Big Apple from May through December (Pictured: NYPD officers arrest protesters during a demonstration against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, on May 30)

It comes as the culmination following a months-long investigation into the NYPD’s actions during racial injustice protests in the Big Apple from May through December (Pictured: NYPD officers arrest protesters during a demonstration against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, on May 30)

James said she found 'a pattern of deeply concerning and unlawful practices that the NYPD utilized in response to these largely peaceful protests' (Picture above captured in Times Square on May 30)

James said she found 'a pattern of deeply concerning and unlawful practices that the NYPD utilized in response to these largely peaceful protests' (Picture above captured in Times Square on May 30)

James said she found ‘a pattern of deeply concerning and unlawful practices that the NYPD utilized in response to these largely peaceful protests’ (Picture above captured in Times Square on May 30)

The lawsuit alleges that from May 28, 2020, to December 11, 2020, officers of various ranks ‘repeatedly and without justification used batons, fist strikes, pepper spray, and other physical force’ against protesters.

James said officers also used bicycles and a crowd-control tactic known as ‘kettling’ or ‘containment’ which she said caused significant harm, in addition to arresting hundreds of ‘legal observers, medics, and other workers performing essential services without probable cause.’

Since May, James said her office has received more than 1,300 complaints and collected more than 300 written statements regarding apparent police abuse.

‘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 obtained by DailyMail.com states.

‘The unlawful policing practices Officers engaged in at these Protests are not new,’ James wrote in her filing, continuing that they are the ‘latest manifestation’ of the department’s ‘unconstitutional policing practices.’

‘For at least the last two decades, the NYPD has engaged in the same unlawful excessive force and false arrest practices while policing large-scale protests. This misconduct is widely documented in prior lawsuits, complaints, and reports,’ James alleges in the filing.

‘Even though these practices were well-known before the 2020 Racial Justice Protests began, Defendants failed to train officers in policing protests to correct and prevent this misconduct—a failure that Defendants have now openly admitted following the release of public reports by the City’s Department of Investigation and Corporation Counsel about NYPD’s conduct during the Protests.’

As part of the filing, James is requesting the police department installs a federal monitor to oversee their policing tactics.

As part of the filing, James is requesting the police department installs a federal monitor to oversee their policing tactics.

Page two of the complaint is seen above

Page two of the complaint is seen above

As part of the filing, James is requesting the police department installs a federal monitor to oversee their policing tactics.

The lawsuit alleges that from May 28, 2020, to December 11, 2020, officers of various ranks ¿repeatedly and without justification used batons, fist strikes, pepper spray, and other physical force¿ against protesters

The lawsuit alleges that from May 28, 2020, to December 11, 2020, officers of various ranks ¿repeatedly and without justification used batons, fist strikes, pepper spray, and other physical force¿ against protesters

The lawsuit alleges that from May 28, 2020, to December 11, 2020, officers of various ranks ‘repeatedly and without justification used batons, fist strikes, pepper spray, and other physical force’ against protesters

Since May, James said her office has received more than 1,300 complaints and collected more than 300 written statements regarding apparent police abuse

Since May, James said her office has received more than 1,300 complaints and collected more than 300 written statements regarding apparent police abuse

Since May, James said her office has received more than 1,300 complaints and collected more than 300 written statements regarding apparent police abuse

The complaint filed Thursday includes dozens of specific examples of what the attorney general called blatant use of excessive force and other misconduct by officers.

A hospital employee on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 at a news conference announcing the suit Thursday described how he was allegedly attacked by NYPD officers on his way home from a shift.

Rayne Valentine, who works at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, recounted how he was walking home from a shift one night in June when he encountered six officers pursuing and then using physical force on a protester.

Valentine said he decided to capture what was happening on his cell phone.

In an interview with DailyMail.com last year, he said: ‘I was up against one of the closed shops just recording. I didn’t say anything to antagonize them. I was walking backwards as they shouted ‘back up.’ And then this cop pushed me.’

Valentine then claims the group of officers kicked and hit him for around 90 seconds, leaving him bloodied with a deep wound to his head. He said he had to immediately return to the hospital where he’d just left to receive seven staples to close the wound.

James said, in total, officers struck protesters with blunt instruments at least 50 times, unlawfully deployed pepper spray on around 30 occasions and pushed or struck protesters at least 75 times.

Citing another example, James spoke of an incident involving a protester named Luke Hanna, who was reportedly hit on the back of the head with a baton in June.

James said Hanna, who required 10 staples to close the gash in his head, was not arrested or charged. 

Marine veteran Rayne Valentine, 32, was making his way back home after finishing a shift at Kings County Hospital Center on Saturday night

Marine veteran Rayne Valentine, 32, was making his way back home after finishing a shift at Kings County Hospital Center on Saturday night

Valentine required seven staples in his head

Valentine required seven staples in his head

Rayne Valentine, 32, was making his way back home after finishing a shift at Kings County Hospital Center on Saturday night when he says he was beaten by police, leaving him requiring seven staples in his head

He watched on as a group of NYPD officers grappled with one protester, who Valentine described as a ¿kid¿ (above). The 32-year-old took out his phone to record encounter when he was shoved to the ground by police

He watched on as a group of NYPD officers grappled with one protester, who Valentine described as a ¿kid¿ (above). The 32-year-old took out his phone to record encounter when he was shoved to the ground by police

He watched on as a group of NYPD officers grappled with one protester, who Valentine described as a ‘kid’ (above). The 32-year-old took out his phone to record encounter when he was shoved to the ground by police

James said officers struck protesters with blunt instruments at least 50 times, unlawfully deployed pepper spray on at least 30 occasions and pushed or struck protesters at least 75 times

James said officers struck protesters with blunt instruments at least 50 times, unlawfully deployed pepper spray on at least 30 occasions and pushed or struck protesters at least 75 times

James said officers struck protesters with blunt instruments at least 50 times, unlawfully deployed pepper spray on at least 30 occasions and pushed or struck protesters at least 75 times

The Black Lives Matter protests in May and June became an international movement prompted in part by anger over Floyd, a black man killed by a white Minneapolis policeman, and Breonna Taylor, a black EMT slain in her Louisville, Kentucky, home by white policemen during a botched raid. 

In late May, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed alarm over ‘disturbing violent clashes’ between New York Police Department officers and protesters, and appointed James to investigate and produce a report.

At two days of virtual hearings in June, protesters described being beaten and pepper-sprayed by officers during marches that followed Floyd’s death.

The following month, James issued a preliminary report that cited a ‘clear breakdown of trust between the police and public.’

At the time, de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea defended the NYPD’s response to protesters as mostly proportionate, saying misconduct was limited to isolated cases that were being investigated.

Both pointed to several nights of looting that marked some of the earlier protests, widespread property damage and instances of protesters hurling projectiles at police officers, injuring them.

However, in a statement Thursday, de Blasio revealed he had met with James earlier this week and said they both share a common goal to ‘drive major police reforms’.

‘I couldn’t agree more that there are pressing reforms that must – and will – be made this year,’ the mayor told CNN.

‘That work is critical and is happening right now. A court process and the added bureaucracy of a federal monitor will not speed up this work. There is no time to waste and we will continue to press forward.’

James said officers struck protesters with blunt instruments at least 50 times, unlawfully deployed pepper spray on at least 30 occasions and pushed or struck protesters at least 75 times

James said officers struck protesters with blunt instruments at least 50 times, unlawfully deployed pepper spray on at least 30 occasions and pushed or struck protesters at least 75 times

James said officers struck protesters with blunt instruments at least 50 times, unlawfully deployed pepper spray on at least 30 occasions and pushed or struck protesters at least 75 times

The NYPD has not yet returned a DailyMail.com request for comment.

Patrick Lynch, president of New York City’s Police Benevolent Association, said in a statement that what the city witnessed across last spring and summer was ‘a failure of New York City’s leadership.’

‘[City leadership] sent cops out to police unprecedented protests and violent riots with no plan, no strategy and no support,’ Lynch said.

James concurred Thursday, adding: ¿No one is above the law ¿ not even the individuals charged with enforcing it'

James concurred Thursday, adding: ¿No one is above the law ¿ not even the individuals charged with enforcing it'

James concurred Thursday, adding: ‘No one is above the law — not even the individuals charged with enforcing it’

‘They should be forced to answer for the resulting chaos, instead of pointing fingers at cops on the streets and ignoring the criminals who attacked us with bricks and firebombs.’

James suit follows one filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society in October, who sued the city on behalf of protesters who said they were assaulted and abused by police, in violation of their civil rights.

Two months later, New York City’s Department of Investigation found that the police department used excessive force during the protests across the city.

‘The NYPD’s use of force and certain crowd control tactics to respond to the Floyd protests produced excessive enforcement that contributed to heightened tensions,’ the Department of Investigation said in the executive summary of its 111-page report.

James concurred Thursday, adding: ‘No one is above the law — not even the individuals charged with enforcing it.’

The Attorney General said she doesn’t believe every officer is ‘problematic’, adding she has family members and close friends whom she deeply respects who are current or former members of the force.

‘I know that many officers have the best intentions to protect New Yorkers and bring communities together,’ she said. ‘But we have a problem that is bigger than any one officer and this is an institutional, systemic problem that must be addressed with proper training, with proper protocols and with discipline of those who violate the law.’

Source: Daily Mail |World News

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