New York lawmakers striving for the new era of police accountability are poised to repeal a state law that has long kept police officers’ disciplinary records secret, one of several steps to rein in officers spurred from the national uproar across the death of George Floyd.
New York City prosecutors moved swiftly to bring criminal charges against a police officer caught on camera shoving a protester to the ground during a demonstration in Brooklyn, as the state legislature worked toward eliminating the law Tuesday.
Police unions asserted that officers were being abandoned, and condemned lawmakers for allowing themselves to get relying on protests through which officers were injured by thrown objects and police vehicles were burned.
Eliminating legal requirements, known as Section 50-a, will make complaints against officers, as well as transcripts and final dispositions of disciplinary proceedings, public the first time in decades.
Governer Andrew Cuomo, who has recently supported reforming legal requirements, has said within the wake from the protests that he or she will sign the repeal. Only Delaware has a similar law.
Momentum for ending the secrecy law reached a crescendo in recent days as marchers filled streets in Brooklyn, elsewhere and Manhattan to rally against police abuses – amplifying the calls of reform advocates who spent years pushing for alternation in the wake of other high-profile police killings, including those of Eric Garner in 2014.
“This is not any time for rejoicing,” said State Senator Kevin Parker, a Democrat representing aspects of Brooklyn. Banning police from using chokeholds, guaranteeing the right to record police activity and making it easier to file lawsuits against people making race-based 911 calls, “This bill has been around for over a decade … And the only reason why we’re bringing it to the floor now because the nation is burning.” The legislature on Monday passed other police accountability measures.
State lawmakers Tuesday were also likely to pass bills providing all state troopers with body cameras and ensuring that officers get proper mental and medical health attention for individuals under arrest or even in custody.
NYPD Officer Vincent D’Andraia was being arraigned on assault and other charges days after a bystander recorded him pushing protester Dounya Zayer, causing her to hit her head on the pavement, as lawmakers acted on accountability legislation.
D’Andraia was launched after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. The officer was ordered to stay away from Zayer who was hospitalized following the May 29 altercation as to what she said were a concussion as well as a seizure.
“Dounya was assaulted for the very reason she was protesting, and that’s police brutality,” said Zayer’s attorney, Tahanie Aboushi, adding that D’Andraia’s supervisor should face punishment beyond an announced reassignment.
“If not with this being on video it might have been business as always to the NYPD,” Aboushi said.
In a statement announcing the costs, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said he was “deeply troubled with this unnecessary assault.” Zayer, 20, called D’Andraia a coward and suggested the assault would only deepen mistrust of police force.
“I was protesting to get a reason,” Zayer said inside a video tweeted from her hospital bed. The officer, she added, “should have had the self restraint to not hurt individuals he’s should be protecting.” The cops department suspended28 and D’Andraia, a couple weeks ago without pay. His lawyer, Stephen Worth, didn’t immediately answer a request comment. He could face a year behind bars, but first-time offenders rarely see any jail time if convicted.
D’Andraia will be the first The Big Apple police officer to deal with criminal charges over alleged misconduct exhibited during days of unrest that roiled the metropolis from the wake of Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.