For Immediate Release: May 3, 2019, 12:00PM
Contact: Nick Encalada-Malinowski, email@example.com, 347-259-4835
NYC’s District Attorney’s are Failing Their Obligation to Hold Police Accountable, Leading to Unjust Prosecutions And Frustrating Efforts To Remove Dirty Cops from the NYPD
Secret Lists of Police Officers Who Have Lied in Court, Falsely Arrested People, Or Committed Other Forms Of Misconduct, Must Be Made Public
New York, NY — It is no secret that holding police accountable is a challenging goal for the people of New York City. One possible method of accountability comes through the Courts, where cases stemming from arrests by members of the New York Police Department are adjudicated. A significant and growing majority of cases involve only police as witnesses and so their credibility is paramount to everything that happens during a criminal case. Unfortunately, it is difficult, if not impossible for people accused of a crime to know whether the officer that is planning to testify against them is credible or has a history of lying in court, of falsifying arrests or arrest records or other misconduct. District Attorneys, however, have access to this information but choose to withhold it from the person accused and their attorneys until they are forced to do so. That isn’t right. It leads to people taking plea deals in cases where police officers may have falsified evidence and also allows bad acts by police officers to go unchallenged and even rewarded. District Attorneys should not be covering up the bad acts of their law enforcement colleagues.
“The criminal legal system demands accountability from people who are arrested and charged with crimes, whether they have committed them or not. But if you’re a police officer – the rules don’t apply. This is one of the key reasons why there is zero trust between directly-impacted communities and the NYPD. To make matters worse, District Attorneys are withholding information about officers who have lied in court, falsified evidence or engaged in other misconduct – while allowing them to testify in courts and send people to jail and prison. This is unacceptable and must come to an end.” – Stanley Fritz, NYC Campaigns Manager, Citizen Action of New York
“We demand that New York City’s DAs publish the list of police officers that have lied, abused their power, and illegally locked up New Yorkers without consequence. Unjust policing and resulting prosecutions devastate lives, families and communities. I and many of the Black and brown people I grew up with have experienced this type of abuse and DAs have turned a blind eye. We denounce the DAs’ practice of solely relying on police as witnesses and we call on DAs to stop giving cover to police officers with a track record of lying to lock people up. Given the rampant malfeasance on the part of police, this is clearly a systemic issue—and given that people are being prosecuted and incarcerated due to system-wide lying by police—DAs have a moral obligation and an obligation to their profession to make the dirty cops list public.” – Vidal Guzman, Community Organizer, JustLeadershipUSA and the #CLOSErikers campaign
“I personally experienced the result of District Attorneys keeping information about police officers who commit misconduct secret. I was arrested and the police officers in my case perjured themselves and my case was dismissed. Those officers had done the same in previous cases as well. Even the judge in my case said we cannot condone police officers who lie in court — if we do we are not safe.”– Dwayne Lee, Community Leader, VOCAL-NY.
“Prosecutors have a specific obligation to scrutinize and protect the public from officers who can’t be relied on in court. If the government has a list of officers they don’t trust, they should disclose that to the public. Prosecutors have tremendous power. They must use that power to pursue justice, not convictions at any cost. Justice requires transparency. Justice is done with prosecutors are honest with the public and disclose when law enforcement officers commit transgressions – especially when those same officers provide the evidence that results in criminal convictions,” – Elizabeth Sack Felber, Supervising Attorney, Wrongful Conviction Unit, The Legal Aid Society.
“It is impossible to achieve justice when arrests and convictions are premised on the word of bad actors within the NYPD, especially when their problematic records are shielded from the communities they police. Brooklyn Defender Services is calling for all DA’s offices to immediately release the names and records of officers who are known to have a history of misconduct. It is time that members of the NYPD who harm New Yorkers are held accountable,” – Maryanne Kaishian, Staff Attorney at Brooklyn Defender Services.
“Creating a list of police whose testimony should not be trusted – but refusing to share it – is yet another way District Attorneys and law enforcement insulate themselves from any real accountability. DAs rely on statements by police officers to make charging decisions, decisions that can destroy peoples’ lives. District Attorneys should make this list public, especially since recently passed bail reform measures in New York rely on the NYPD to implement the law and divert thousands of New Yorkers from pretrial detention. Accused people shouldn’t be detained pretrial under any circumstance, let alone unnecessarily detained based on the word of a police officer who has a history of lying in court, falsifying arrests or other misconduct.” – Peter Goldberg, Executive Director, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund