Released documents show that New York City shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars to settle civil rights lawsuits involving the New York Police Department(NYPD).
The documents – released by the New York City Law Department – show more than 12,000 cases since 2009 where the city paid out $428 million in settlements. The records were released after a Freedom of Information Act request was made by MuckRock, asking the department just how many civil rights lawsuits were filed against the city when the police department was listed as a defendant over a five-year period.
While the list will require further review since the case histories are not provided, the Gothamist has argued that not all the settlements seem to be the result of police misconduct. The largest payout of $11.5 million went to Google engineer Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, who was nearly killed in 2009 when a tree branch fell on him in Central Park. Another large settlement went to the family of Ronald Spear, who died after being beaten by Rikers Island guards – officials who work for the Department of Corrections, not the NYPD. Without those two cases, though, there are still several thousand cases in which the NYPD was listed as a defendant.