NY AG James files lawsuit against NYPD for excessive use of force during protests

New York City

NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Thursday against the New York City Police Department and its leadership to end its pattern of using excessive force and making false arrests against New Yorkers during peaceful protests.

In the complaint, Attorney General James outlines the NYPD’s “illegal and harmful” conduct against New Yorkers during recent racial justice protests and for years prior, which has led to significant injuries and violated individuals’ basic right to peacefully protest.

The lawsuit specifically charges the NYPD, the City of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan with failing to address this longstanding pattern of abuse by not properly training, supervising, and disciplining officers to prevent misconduct, despite knowledge and public admission that it violated the rights of New Yorkers.

“There is no question that the NYPD engaged in a pattern of excessive, brutal, and unlawful force against peaceful protesters,” said Attorney General James. “Over the past few months, the NYPD has repeatedly and blatantly violated the rights of New Yorkers, inflicting significant physical and psychological harm and leading to great distrust in law enforcement. With today’s lawsuit, this longstanding pattern of brutal and illegal force ends. No one is above the law — not even the individuals charged with enforcing it.”

In the complaint, Attorney General James lays out dozens of examples of the NYPD’s use of excessive force and other misconduct, since May 2020, including the indiscriminate, unjustified, and repeated use of batons, pepper spray, bicycles, and a crowd-control tactic known as “kettling” against peaceful protesters — all causing protesters significant physical harm.

James says NYPD officers also unlawfully arrested legal observers, medics, and other workers performing essential services without probable cause and in direct violation of executive orders from Mayor de Blasio. The lawsuit seeks broad injunctive relief, including systemic reforms to the NYPD and the implementation of a monitor to oversee the NYPD’s policing tactics in future protests and to ensure compliance with the law.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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