NY Landscape

Police Misconduct

What is Police Misconduct?

Police misconduct generally is separated into: false arrest, malicious prosecution and excessive force

False Arrest

Q: How do I know whether I’ve been a victim of false arrest?

A: When the police had no legal right to arrest you.

A: A false arrest has occurred when:

  1. Probable cause was absent leading up to the arrest – in other words, the absence of facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed.
  2. If you have been arrested without probable cause then according to United States and New York State laws you have been deprived of your civil, constitutional, and statutory rights.
  3. More specifically, the police have deprived you of your right to be “free of unreasonable searches and seizures,” as stated in the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

People are victims of false arrest every day in New York City, and many of these victims never realize that their civil rights have been violated: they are left humiliated and embarrassed by their experience, but they do not file claims against the NYPD. Police officers sometimes abuse their position of authority, intimidating the individuals they have mistreated in order to avoid facing consequences for their actions - actions that often leave the victim in jail, inconvenienced for long periods of time, or with a damaging criminal record. This can later lead to difficulties for the victim in areas such as immigration and employment.

Malicious Prosecution

Q: How do I know whether I’ve been a victim of Malicious Prosecution?

A: The Police had no reason to bring and continue criminal charges.

A: You are a victim of a Malicious Prosecution if:

  1. You have had court proceedings (i.e. a criminal case) initiated against you;
  2. This case against you must have been terminated in your favor;
  3. Your attorneys must establish the absence of probable cause for the criminal charge that was filed against you.
Excessive Force

Q: How do I know whether I’ve been a victim of Excessive Force?

A: The Police used unnecessary force against you.

A: Excessive Force occurs when Police Officers use anything more than the minimum necessary force in the course of an arrest. This may include, but is not limited to:

  1. Inappropriately using deadly force, such as a firearm;
  2. The use of a choke hold or any other restriction of breathing through pressure on the windpipe;
  3. Sitting or standing on the chest to gain compliance;
  4. Using unnecessary force after handcuffs have been applied.

If you believe that you are a victim of any a false arrest, you need an experienced civil rights law firm like PetersonDelleCave LLP to skillfully construct your case in order to pursue compensation.



Who Investigates Police Misconduct? CCRB: Civilian Complaint Review Board

The Civilian Complaint Review Board is a board of civilians independent from the NYPD that is appointed by the Mayor of New York City, the New York City Council, and the Police Department whose job is to receive and review complaints made by citizens against NYPD officers. It was set up in the 1980s as the City’s first independent body with the power to investigate allegations of police misconduct.

Complaints must be filed with the CCRB within 18 months of the alleged incident, and can be made by phone (1-800-341-CCRB), online at https://www.nyc.gov/html/ccrb/html/complaint.html or in person either at the CCRB office at 40 Rector Street, 2 nd Floor, New York, NY 10006 or at any NYPD precinct.

After your complaint has been submitted, the Board will review the facts stated in your complaint, interview the officer(s) involved, and decide whether to discipline the officer(s) as a result of the complaint.

Regardless of whether the CCRB disciplines the officers involved in your case, filing a complaint with the CCRB can be very helpful to your attorney as he or she prepares to file your lawsuit against the NYPD: your lawyer can get a copy of the report, which will contain a transcript of any interviews conducted by the Board regarding your complaint – including with the police officers who mistreated you – as well as many of the facts investigated in the report. This information can be extremely helpful in constructing an effective false arrest, excessive force, or malicious prosecution case against New York City and the NYPD.

IAB: Internal Affairs Bureau of the NYPD

The IAB was set up in 1997 and is a unit within the NYPD dedicated to investigating police misconduct and corruption in the police force.

The best way to lodge a complaint with the IAB is through the New York City Commission to Combat Police Corruption, available at (212) 487-7350 on weekdays, or in writing to:

New York City Commission to Combat Police Corruption
17 Battery Place, Suite 327
New York, NY 1000

The Commission will receive your report and forward it to the IAB for investigation and review. Complaints can also be made directly to the IAB’s 24-hour complaint center at (212) 741-8401.


Famous Police Misconduct Cases

RODNEY KING - Excessive force
In 1991, Rodney King, an African-American male, was arrested for DUI and resisting arrest. In the course of the arrest, officers of the LAPD hit him with batons 56 times, causing 11 skull fractures. The subsequent acquittal at trial of the officers involved sparked the LA riots of 1992 that caused over $1 billion of property damage in the city. Mr. King was awarded $3.8 million damages in his civil case against the city.

AMADOU DIALLO - Excessive force, Wrongful death
In 1999, African-American man Amadou Diallo was shot by the NYPD in the Bronx as he supposedly reached for a weapon - which turned out to be his wallet. The officers were later found to have fired a total of 41 shots at the unarmed victim, who died instantly. The officers were acquitted of all charges, but in a civil case against the city Amadou’s family won $3 million in damages.

SEAN BELL - Excessive force, Wrongful death
In 2006, Sean Bell and several friends attended his bachelor party at a club in Queens. After they left the club, undercover NYPD Officers who were conducting an unrelated investigation fired 50 shots into their vehicle, even though there was no evidence of a gun on the suspects. Mr. Bell was killed and two others were permanently injured. The victims were awarded damages in excess of $7 million.

ABNER LOUIMA – Excessive force, Violation of Civil Rights
Abner Louima was arrested coming out of a Brooklyn nightclub in 1997 and was forcibly sodomized in a New York jail by two NYPD officers. One of the Officers, Justin Volpe, was tried and sentenced to 30 years in prison without the possibility of parole. Mr. Louima was awarded $8.75 million in damages.

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