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The Cops

Introducing: New York’s Finest

The first edition of our new column, a biweekly roundup of bad behavior by New York cops.

3:34 PM EDT on August 25, 2023

A cop in front of Times Square.

(Adrian Owen / Flickr)

Courtesy, professionalism, and respect: Those are the three things the New York Police Department promises all of us, the phrase emblazoned on the Dodge Chargers and Chevy Tahoes and Ford Transit vans (and even the dinky little parking enforcement Smart cars) that officers use across the five boroughs. 

Yet NYPD officers regularly fail to be courteous, respectful professionals. Instead, they look at their phones all day, decorate their offices with threatening posters, rack up millions of dollars in settlement fees from beating up protestors, detain vulnerable individuals like a grandmother and a Yorkshire terrier, lie, point guns at unarmed people—I could go on. And that's just the stuff we've had time to report on…which brings me to the point of this column. 

Every two weeks, we're going to be combing the headlines for a new column called "New York's Finest": a roundup of arrests, firings, settlements, disciplinary board rulings, and anything else we can dig up that involves cops in New York City and the rest of the state breaking the law, harming the people they ostensibly serve and protect, or just being fucked up and weird. At a time when crime and public safety dominate the conversation about life in New York, spurred on by our ex-cop mayor and other right-wing political forces, we think it's important to keep an eye on the people who make up an agency that gets billions of dollars in taxpayer funds every year—are they really making the city a safer place to live?

In this first edition of New York's Finest, we've got knife-wielding cops, Israeli cops, a cop killing a man with a cooler, a cop's death by friendly fire captured in body-worn camera footage, and more:  

  • On August 12, off-duty NYPD officer Elisamuel Samboy was arrested and charged with strangulation after a fight with his girlfriend at the end of July.
  • On August 16, Gina Mestre, an ex-NYPD officer who left the force in 2022, was charged with racketeering. The former Bronx-based cop fell in love with the leader of a gang called the Shooting Boys, then helped him flee to the Dominican Republic while assigned to a task force dedicated to capturing him. (OK, I have to  admit it—that's kind of romantic.) 
  • On August 17, NYPD officers shot a 17-year-old in the thigh in one of Brooklyn's designated "summer violence reduction zones" after he fled the scene of a fight on a Razor scooter. Cops say the teenager was reaching for a gun he dropped out of his pocket when they caught up with him. "These officers…stopped an innocent person from getting shot with that gun," NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell said at a news conference. Maybe
  • On August 21, the Civilian Complaint Review Board released a report that showed complaints about police misconduct increased by 40 percent from 2022 to 2023 and stop-and-frisk complaints jumped 87 percent in the same timeframe. "More enforcement means more unwelcome interactions with the public,” a source told the New York Daily News. "It only makes sense the complaints would go up."
  • On August 23, ProPublica dropped an investigation into the NYPD's handling of the friendly fire death of police officer Brian Mulkeen, who was killed in 2019 after he pursued and killed a man with an illegal handgun—which raised a bunch of very good questions about how the NYPD's Force Investigation Division (FID) investigates police shootings. How does the FID decide when, and how thoroughly, to review body-worn camera footage? How do they decide what parts of that footage to release to the public? Why didn't they press officers who lied about how far they were standing from Mulkeen when they shot him? Surprise, surprise: No one even tangentially related to the NYPD gave comment for the story.
  • Also on August 23, off-duty NYPD traffic cop Kerrielyn Gugliada was arrested on Staten Island after she threatened a man with a kitchen knife, and Eric Adams took some time to drool over Israeli police drones while on his tour of the country.
  • And finally, 30-year-old Eric Duprey died in a motorcycle crash August 23 when NYPD Sergeant Erik Duran hit him with a bystander's cooler that was full of soda and water bottles as, cops say, Duprey fled a drug bust on his bike. (Duprey's mother disputed this account in an interview with the Associated Press: "He wasn’t fleeing. He wasn’t fleeing. He was just on the motorcycle talking to me on the video chat. And he passed by that place when all of a sudden the call cut out," she told a reporter in Spanish.) Truly gruesome video footage shows Duran picking up the cooler and swinging it into Duprey, sending the rider tumbling off the sidewalk, over a metal barricade, and onto the street,  hitting a Jeep Cherokee. "The use of force here is not consistent with our guidelines," an NYPD official told the Daily News, and clarified that the department "[doesn't] train officers to pick up something and throw it at a suspect." Duran—who has racked up 17 CCRB complaints, one substantiated, over the course of his 13-year NYPD career—has been suspended without pay, and Attorney General Letitia James has opened an investigation. According to the New York Times, which obtained an internal NYPD memo, "the police are preparing for a possible public backlash."
  • On August 25, the New York Civil Liberties Union shared data with Gothamist that showed that of all the people stopped and frisked during the Adams administration, only five percent were white.

Got information about any bad behavior from the cops that we missed? Shoot us an email at tips@hellgatenyc.com. 

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