Brooklyn DA to investigate alleged NYPD gun planting scheme
Defendant Files Civil Suit Claiming ‘Set-Up’
In a federal suit against the city for an unspecified damage award, a Brooklyn resident claims that NYPD detectives violated his constitutional rights when they planted gun evidence and falsely charged him with criminal possession of a firearm. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office announced it is looking into the allegations.
Jeffery Herring asserts that Brooklyn detectives played a game of fast and loose when, in the summer of 2013, the officers wrongly accused him of illegally possessing a firearm.
According to the complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court on Monday, this is not a one-off incident, but rather part of a pattern of misbehavior.
Herring was arrested in East New York while returning home from running a few shopping errands along Kings Highway. Four Brooklyn officers approached Herring and, according to the detectives, reached into one of the shopping bags and found a gun. Herring was taken back to the 67th Precinct and “unlawfully strip searched,” the federal complaint states, prior to interrogation by the officers.
Herring notes that he was questioned about guns and “pressed for information” about guns in the neighborhood despite his protestations that he had no knowledge about guns.
In June 2013, Herring was charged with criminal possession of a firearm, but his case was dismissed by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo when the police and prosecutors failed to produce the informant that supposedly provided information against Herring.
“Based upon information provided to us by defense counsel” and in the office’s own investigation, a Brooklyn assistant district attorney said, “we do not believe at this time that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against Mr. Herring.”
In arguing that the NYPD and the individual detectives involved in Herring’s case have a history in engaging in this behavior and a steady pattern of using confidential or anonymous informants, Herring’s complaint lists similar cases involving the same detectives, where recovered gun evidence and the credibility of the officers were called into question.
According to The New York Times, Herring’s original defense attorney, Debora Silberman of the Brooklyn Defender Services, located cases where the defendants also said the guns were planted. In those instances, the police said officers saw the suspects storing the guns in plastic bags or handkerchiefs.
Other similarities include the use of confidential informants who are suddenly mentioned and who are never produced when called on. In one case, Herring’s complaint notes, a federal judge suppressed gun evidence submitted by the police and prosecutors and openly questioned whether a detective, Edward Babington, committed perjury.
“Frankly, in my view, I believe these officers perjured themselves,” Hon. Dora L. Irizarry said. “In my view,” Irizarry continued, “there is a serious possibility that some evidence was fabricated by these officers. … These officers are coming here before the court and committing perjury.”
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson plans to launch his own investigation into the matter, telling reporters “[w]e will investigate the arrest of Mr. Herring and other arrests by these officers because of the serious questions raised by this case.”
Herring’s federal civil complaint also seeks punitive damages against the city and a declaratory judgment from the court that the city, through the actions of the NYPD, violated Herring’s constitutional rights.
“Between the facts of Mr. Herring’s case, the striking similarities of other cases handled by these defendants, the history of some of the individual defendants, and the consistent rulings of judges of the state and federal bench scrutinizing their tactics and testimony, the city and the NYPD have failed to adequately train, supervise, discipline and control these individuals. Allowing these individuals to walk the beat, carry a gun and shield and authorize an arrest shocks the conscience of law-abiding citizens who expect the police will uphold the law and keep them safe,” Herring’s civil attorney Joseph Indusi, of the Brooklyn firm London Indusi, said in a statement.
Herring, who only spent eight days in police custody, told The New York Times how grateful he was, but recognized other defendants who spent months, even a year, in jail due to the officers’ alleged gun-planting scheme.
“I look at my journey, but they were incarcerated.” Herring also seeks monetary damages for the “emotional consequences of facing a 15-year jail sentence, if convicted” on the gun charge.
“The lawsuit will be reviewed once we are served,” a spokesman for the city’s Law Department told the Eagle.
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