New York, NY – Below is a letter Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Council’s Oversight and Investigations Committee, sent on Sunday to the Department of Investigation (DOI) Commissioner Margaret Garnett requesting a full and independent investigation of the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s mishandling of the weekend’s protests. The investigation should also probe the general policies and practices of the NYPD relating to mass demonstrations.
The letter, which cites alarming instances of misconduct described by witnesses and in some cases caught on video, calls for an investigation that is completely independent from the Mayor’s office. It should not interfere with the New York State Attorney General’s investigation.
This is the full text of the letter:
Dear Commissioner Garnett:
Pursuant to section 803 of the New York City Charter, as Speaker of the New York City Council and Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Oversight and Investigations, respectively, we are hereby directing the Department of Investigation (DOI) to immediately undertake an investigation into the mishandling of protests that emerged in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the general policies and practices of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) relating to mass demonstrations.
Witnesses and reporters describe, and in several cases videos show, alarming instances of misconduct by the NYPD during these protests. These instances include the use of pepper spray against two State elected officials (Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assembly Member Diana Richardson), two NYPD vehicles ramming a group of people, a police officer forcefully shoving a woman to the ground, and a police officer removing the mask of a man with his hands in the air to pepper spray him.
Any investigation by the City should be conducted independently, not in coordination with or under the supervision of the Corporation Counsel or any other office or agency directly controlled by the Mayor. The public must have confidence in our response. That will not happen unless we ensure that there is no possibility of political interference. This can be done by requiring that the investigation is led by the Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD (OIG-NYPD), which was established by the Council for the express purpose of independently investigating, reviewing, studying, auditing, and making recommendations relating to the operations, policies, programs, and practices of the NYPD.
DOI’s investigation should in no way interfere with the investigation currently being conducted by the New York State Attorney General. The Department should cooperate fully with the Attorney General and provide whatever assistance her office may request. In addition, any finding by DOI related to criminal conduct should be referred to the appropriate prosecuting attorney.