Advertisement

N.Y. attorney general accuses NYPD of excessive force during summer protests

A Black Lives Matter protester protects a man from New York Police Department officers as protests around the country continue over the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020. On Thursday, the New York attorney general accused the NYPD of using excessive force during the summer protests. File Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI
A Black Lives Matter protester protects a man from New York Police Department officers as protests around the country continue over the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020. On Thursday, the New York attorney general accused the NYPD of using excessive force during the summer protests. File Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 14 (UPI) -- New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday filed a lawsuit accusing the New York City Police Department of "brutal" force against peaceful protesters during last year's anti-racism demonstrations.

In the complaint, James' office said the NYPD violated individuals' "basic right to peacefully protest. The court document said the department, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan failed to address an existing pattern of abuse and a lack of training.

Advertisement

"There is no question that the NYPD engaged in a pattern of excessive, brutal, and unlawful force against peaceful protesters," James said. "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."

RELATED Data shows U.S. police more likely to use force against liberal protesters

Protesters took to the streets across the globe last summer in reaction to the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd after police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes. The protests spread to New York City, where the complaint said there were "mass arrests" and interactions between police and protesters.

The complaint filed Thursday included dozens of pages of examples of alleged excessive force violations, including photos of protesters who said they were injured by police. The lawsuit says officers struck protesters with blunt instruments at least 50 times, unlawfully deployed pepper spray 30 times and used unreasonable force at least 75 times.

Instead of monetary relief, James called for systemic reforms within the NYPD overseen by an independent monitor.

RELATED Judge says officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck will get separate trial

Protesters demand justice in police killing of George Floyd

Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

RELATED Minn. prosectors seek to delay Derek Chauvin and other officers' trials due to COVID-19

RELATED Good riddance to 2020, maybe -- but many of same issues will define 2021

Latest Headlines