Two Years After Using Banned Chokehold, NYPD Officer Escaped Punishment

The New York Police Department (NYPD) repeatedly fails to holds its officers accountable, even when reports of misconduct are substantiated by the city’s Civilian Complaints Review Board, reports The Intercept. One example: Tomas Medina had been playing music with friends when detective Fabio Nunez, responding to a noise complaint, demanded to see Medina’s identification. When Medina tried to walk away, Nunez escalated the encounter, which was caught on surveillance camera and police body camera. While the footage leaves little doubt about what transpired between Medina and Nunez in July 2018, department officials quickly sided with the officer. And while the CCRB substantiated Medina’s accusations of misconduct, a relatively rare outcome for an agency that substantiated only about 15 percent of nearly 5,000 allegations last year, two years later officer Nunez has yet to face any consequences.

Such cases underline the arguments of critics who say lawmakers need to remove disciplinary control from the NYPD altogether by repealing a decades-old state law that limits independent oversight of police discipline. However, city officials insist that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recently announced “disciplinary matrix,” which details consequences for specific instances of misconduct, such as recommending termination for officers found to have used chokeholds, although it leaves room for mitigating circumstances, just needs time to work. According to Medina’s federal complaint, NYPD officers have been accused of using chokeholds in at least 40 federal lawsuits between 2015 and 2018, and the city has settled at least 30 of those at a cost of more than $1.2 million.

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