What is the cost of police brutality? For the City of New York, it is almost half a billion dollars in tax-payer money. Newly-released documents reveal that New York City was forced to pay out almost five hundred million dollars in order to settle civil rights lawsuits involving the New York Police Department (NYPD) out of court.
The New York City Law Department recently released these documents to the public, allowing us to see for the first time just how much the extremely militarized NYPD’s 12,000 cases where they have been threatened with civil lawsuit have cost NYC since 2009.
But the NYC Law Department of didn’t give the documents over without a fight. It took a Freedom of Information Act request made by MuckRock. The request inquired just how many civil rights lawsuits had been filed against the city where the police department was listed as a defendant. The FOIA request had to be limited, due to space constraints and in order to get the files back in a timely manner, to just over a five-year period.
Five years and almost $500,000,000. That’s how much the militarized NYPD’s police brutality has cost the tax-payers of New York in only five short years.
The biggest of all the payouts was $11.5 million to Google engineer Sasha Blair-Goldensohn. One of the other largest suits went to Ronald Spear, who did in fact die after Rikers Island guards beat him to death.
The rest of the massive pay out was disbursed over literally thousands of such cases where the NYPD was listed as a defendant.
In the first six months of this year alone, the City of New York has forked over almost $103 million in out-of-court settlements for police misconduct and civil rights cases. Last year NYC paid out $96 million for similar lawsuits.
Most of the suits alleged false arrest, and the NYPD seemed to acknowledge as much by settling the civil suits out of court.
Meanwhile, former Mayor Bloomberg dismissed questions about civil suits against the NYPD, saying that they were insignificant in number and amount.
How can there by these many cases of police abuse? As long as we accept this as “just the way things are,” this will continue to just be the way things are. If you believe the police have become too militarized and are abusing their power in far too many cases, the help spread the word. Nothing will change until we make it change.
(Article by Jackson Marciana; image via Spencer Platt / Getty Images / AFP)