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7 cops found not credible by Brooklyn DA cost the city $1.6M in lawsuits

November 7, 2019 Noah Goldberg
Police surround the vehicle at Kingsbrook Medical Center on Winthrop Street after the brother of a suspect drove him to the hospital with a gunshot wound.
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The seven Brooklyn cops whose names were released Wednesday by the Brooklyn district attorney on a list of officers deemed not to be credible have been sued more than 40 times. The lawsuits have cost the city more than $1 million in settlements, according to data from the Legal Aid Society.

The officers’ names were released by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in compliance with a WNYC/Gothamist Freedom of Information Law request. The Brooklyn DA has determined seven NYPD officers not credible based on cumulative factors that can include false testimony, lawsuits against the officer or lying on criminal complaints. Because of the credibility concerns, the officers on the list are never used as the sole witnesses in prosecutions, according to Gonzalez.

The names of an additional 47 cops were released as part of the FOIL request. These officers were deemed to have “adverse credibility” by Brooklyn Supreme Court judges. Some of those officers were found to have had credibility issues in more than one case.

“The public should be able to rely on police officers to tell the truth, but too often, that is not the case, and officers are caught telling lies on the witness stand and in their official reports,” said Molly Griffard, a fellow at the Legal Aid Society.

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One of the officers the DA found adversely credible was Richard Danese.

Danese was sued five times from 2013 to 2016, including one 2016 Bedford-Stuyvesant case filed by Darrell Dennis — settled by the city for $77,500 — in which Danese allegedly called Dennis “a little bitch” as he handcuffed him and told him “I will fuck you up.”

Danese and other unnamed officers then put Dennis in a police vehicle and allegedly assaulted him in the car while he was handcuffed.

The lawsuit alleges there was no reason to arrest Dennis, who was picked up for “spitting and assaulting” officers.

“Darrell Dennis was working at the time — working two jobs — and standing in front of his residence and it’s because of this experience that he will forever be tainted in a negative way because of the actions of Police Officer Danese,” said Royce Russell, who represented Darrell Dennis in the lawsuit. “This was a false arrest and excessive force matter, for which the criminal case was dismissed outright.”

Russell commended the Brooklyn DA for releasing the names of the officers with credibility issues, and urged other DAs to follow Gonzalez’s lead.

“We take police credibility very seriously because inaccurate statements by members of law enforcement strike at the heart of our criminal justice system, cause significant harm to the public trust and may lead to wrongful convictions,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in a statement.

Another officer, Leonard Clarke, was also found by the Brooklyn DA to have “adverse credibility.” Clarke was named in 13 lawsuits between 2009 and 2018.

The city paid out $14,000 in 2013 to a man who Clarke allegedly shoved up against a wall during an illegal stop-and-frisk in Flatbush, according to the New York Daily News. In total, the city has forked up at least $232,500 in settled lawsuits in which Clarke was named as a defendant.

The city has paid out $1,632,501 in lawsuits related to the seven officers. The biggest suit was over a false DWI arrest in which the city paid out $950,000 to a man. One of the officers on the Brooklyn DA’s list, Greggory Gingo, was named as a defendant in that case.

The NYPD did not comment specifically on whether there were open internal investigations into the seven officers on the DA’s list.

Since 2014, the NYPD “affirmatively solicits” findings of adverse credibility from local DAs and federal prosecutors, according to NYPD spokesperson Detective Annette Shelton. The department established an Adverse Credibility Committee in 2016, which reviews findings.

“If the committee believes that such a finding stemmed from intentional or willfully false statements, that case would immediately be referred for investigation by our Internal Affairs Bureau and subject to investigation, disciplinary proceedings and possible criminal perjury charges,” Shelton said.

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