Ny 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, among several steps to rein in officers spurred by the national uproar within the death of George Floyd.
As the state legislature worked toward eliminating the law Tuesday, 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.
Police unions declared that officers were being abandoned, and condemned lawmakers for allowing themselves to be influenced by protests by which officers were injured by thrown objects and police vehicles were burned.
Eliminating what the law states, referred to as Section 50-a, would make complaints against officers, along with transcripts and final dispositions of disciplinary proceedings, public the very first time in decades.
Governer Andrew Cuomo, having recently supported reforming legal requirements, has said from the wake of your protests he will sign the repeal. Only Delaware carries a similar law.
Momentum for ending the secrecy law reached a crescendo in recent days as marchers filled streets in Manhattan, elsewhere and Brooklyn to rally against police abuses – amplifying the calls of reform advocates who spent years pushing for change in the wake of other high-profile police killings, including that of Eric Garner in 2014.
“This is not any time for rejoicing,” said State Senator Kevin Parker, a Democrat representing parts of Brooklyn. “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, 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.
State lawmakers Tuesday were also likely to pass bills providing all state troopers with body cameras and making sure officers get proper mental and medical health attention for anyone under arrest or even in custody.
As lawmakers acted on accountability legislation, 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.
D’Andraia was introduced after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. The officer was ordered to step away from Zayer who has been hospitalized right after the May 29 altercation in what she said were a concussion and a seizure.
“Dounya was assaulted for your 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 just for this being on video it would have been business as always for that NYPD,” Aboushi said.
In the 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 law enforcement.
“I was protesting for a reason,” Zayer said within a video tweeted from her hospital bed. The officer, she added, “should have gotten the self restraint to not hurt the individuals he’s meant to be protecting.” The authorities department suspendedD’Andraia and 28, a week 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 is the first New York City police officer to handle criminal charges over alleged misconduct exhibited during events of unrest that roiled the town from the wake of Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.