New York City Paid an NBA Star Millions After an NYPD Officer Broke His Leg. The Officer Paid Little Price.

“Five years ago, NBA guard Thabo Sefolosha was standing outside a nightclub when he was tackled by five New York Police Department officers, one of whom broke his leg with a baton.

Sefolosha sued, and the city paid its largest settlement for alleged police brutality in years, $4.5 million. After all, Sefolosha had to have surgery and couldn’t play basketball for a year. And a jury had acquitted Sefolosha of the charges against him for allegedly resisting arrest. The whole incident had been caught on tape.

But the payout — which didn’t cost the officers a dime — is where any accountability ended. The city had insisted during the case that the officers were blameless, and they ended up facing no significant punishment.

It’s left Sefolosha frustrated. “To get a settlement was a small victory. But big picture, it’s a small drop,” Sefolosha told ProPublica from his home in Vevey, Switzerland. “When are people going to be held accountable? You have to have repercussions. They’re going to do it over and over again.”

New York City has paid more than $1 billion over the past five years to settle lawsuits against the NYPD, according to data released by the city. ProPublica examined dozens of the biggest payouts in cases where civilians had also filed complaints with the city agency that reviews alleged police abuse. Again and again, the officers faced minimal or no discipline.

In one case, the city paid out $125,000 when officers allegedly fractured someone’s cheekbone with a flashlight. The officers were not disciplined. In another case, officers allegedly bashed in a man’s car window with a baton, then broke his ankle dragging him from the vehicle and charged him with resisting arrest. The charges were dropped and the city paid $460,000 to settle. The officers again faced no discipline.

In the 45 cases we examined, the harshest penalty any officer received was a loss of 15 vacation days — for punching a teenager and knocking him unconscious in an incident caught on tape that went viral. The city settled that case for $200,000.”

“Over the past seven years, at least 800 officers have been named as defendants in five or more suits settled by the city.”

“In a few cases reviewed by ProPublica, the city has defended officers who seem to have lied or engaged in what was clearly misconduct.”

“Byrne dismissed the idea that settlements can be useful in identifying problematic officers. “My belief is the settlement means nothing,” he said. Settlements often happen when the city decides lawsuits are not worth fighting and “not because the officer did anything wrong.”

But at times, the Law Department’s ferocious approach to defending the NYPD has drawn criticism from judges handling the cases. In one case, a federal judge in Manhattan admonished the NYPD for not having turned over evidence in a case where a man died after being tackled by police outside Yankee Stadium.

The city’s lawyers had long claimed that there were no recorded radio calls from the incident. When the judge insisted the head of the NYPD’s legal bureau sign an affidavit attesting to that, the calls suddenly turned up.”

Inside the NYPD’s Biased Prostitution Policing

“Eager to drive up prostitution arrests in the name of doing something about “human trafficking,” the New York City Police Department (NYPD) doesn’t much care whether any actual violent crime—or even actual prostitution—is taking place. A new investigation by ProPublica examines how the city’s zeal to look tough on trafficking has created yet another avenue for biased law enforcement and means for police to harass nonwhite residents and communities.

In the past four years, only seven percent of New Yorkers arrested for allegedly soliciting prostitution and only 11 percent of those charged with prostitution were white, according to ProPublica.

“Teams of NYPD officers have descended on minority neighborhoods, leaning into car windows and knocking on apartment doors, trying to get men and women to say the magic words: agreeing to exchange sex for money,””

“”Some of their targets were selling sex to survive; others were minding their own business. Almost everyone arrested for these crimes in the last four years is nonwhite, a ProPublica data analysis shows: 89% of the 1,800 charged with prostitution; 93% of the 3,000 accused of trying to buy sex.

Of the dozens of cops, lawyers and other experts ProPublica interviewed for this story, not a single one believes arrest figures for patronizing a prostitute accurately reflect the racial makeup of those who buy sex in New York City.””

“defendants were often coerced into pleading guilty to avoid dragging out court dates, legal fees, etc. In cases where defendants did push back, the city often settled.
“Since 2014, the city has paid more than a million in taxpayer dollars to at least 20 people who claimed they were falsely arrested in prostitution or ‘john’ stings,””

“”Last year, it paid $150,000 to five young Latino men who said they were laughing off a proposition when they were arrested and $20,000 to a West African taxi driver who said in a sworn deposition that he was walking home when a woman asked if he’d walk down the block with her. He told ProPublica he thought she was afraid of walking alone, so he agreed. He was then arrested.

The undercover officer in his case netted 10 arrests in three and a half hours the night she encountered him, earning her four hours of overtime pay.

Eighteen current and former officers who policed the sale of sex in New York City said overtime has motivated them for years. The hours add up over the drive to the precinct, the questioning, the paperwork. “You arrest 10 girls, now the whole team’s making eight hours of overtime,”””

The NYPD unit that snatched a protester off the street has been accosting people for years

““When a person is accosted by surprise, they have a natural reaction. Someone will run, they’ll fight, they’ll yank their arms away from someone who’s trying to pull them into a car,” said Kaishian. “These acts were often charged as resisting arrest or obstructions of governmental administration. So in addition to the charge for the warrant or the I-Card that was issued, even if they caught the wrong person, the person that they grabbed would be subjected to additional charges simply for responding to that terrifying situation.””