Over 1,400 NYPD police reports from the past fifteen years requested by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) will be turned over by New York City after it recently withdrew its appeal of a trial court disclosure ruling. Earlier this year, Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman determined that the Freedom of Information Act required the city to provide the documents to the NYCLU for review.
The NYCLU sued the city for release of the police reports as part of its ongoing effort to review incidents of police shootings for patterns of racial bias, excessive force, as well as potential inconsistencies between internal investigations and police statements to media. Requested reports include the 24-hour and 90-day incident reports that must be filed by investigating officers in the aftermath of firearms discharges by police, covering over 1,000 incidents dating back to 1997.
The city dropped its appeal after similar confidentiality arguments failed in another NYCLU lawsuit that sought information about the race of victims shot by NYPD officers. Christopher Dunn, the NYCLU's associate legal director, told Reuters that such shootings "often present real questions about their justification, which will only surface in the investigative reports we are seeking. For instance, did [the suspect] threaten an officer with a weapon, as the police often tell the press? Or, upon interviews with witnesses at the scene, as the reports will reveal, is that not the case?"
The high-profile shootings of Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, who was unarmed when he was shot 41 times by NYPD police, are indicative of the worst police brutality our city has ever seen. Police shooting victims, survivors of wrongful deaths caused by police, and individuals who have suffered false arrest or false imprisonment can be advised of their legal options and fight back against civil rights abuses and excessive law enforcement actions by contacting an experienced attorney.