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NYPD’s Solution for Abusive Cops Who Cost Taxpayers Millions of Dollars in Civil Suits—Promote Them

by Douglas Ankney

The New York Police Department (“NYPD”) hired David Grieco as an officer in 2006. Earning the street name “Bullethead,” Grieco was named in 17 lawsuits between his hiring and his first promotion in 2016. Although payouts to settle suits naming Grieco as a defendant exceeded $1 million, he was again promoted and has now been named in a total of 28 lawsuits.

In 2023, New York City (“NYC”) is on track to pay out more than $100 million in settlements of lawsuits stemming from the NYPD’s misconduct. Twenty officers from the NYPD have the dubious distinction of being named either in the largest number of lawsuits or named in lawsuits with the highest settlement payouts. Sixteen of those 20 have been promoted; some of them have been promoted more than once.

“They’re kind of failing upwards when they’re not only staying in the department but they’re also being promoted,” said Jennvine Wong, staff attorney with the Cop Accountability Project at the Legal Aid Society. NYC’s lawyers defend the NYPD cops accused of misconduct, usually negotiating out-of-court settlements, paying huge sums of money but with a clause stipulating that the “police admit no wrongdoing.” This tactic insulates the officers from any civil or criminal judgments in the courts.

Wilfredo Benitez was hired as an officer by the NYPD in 2008. After being named in nine civil suits in nine years, Benitez was promoted to detective in 2017. So far, NYC has paid more than $480,000 to settle claims against Benitez, and he has been named in 11 additional suits since his promotion.

Henry Daverin was hired by the NYPD as an officer in 2008 and promoted to sergeant in 2013. Named in at least 19 lawsuits between 2013 and 2017 (when he was promoted to lieutenant), NYC’s taxpayers have shelled out $1.5 million so far in settlements. In 2005, Jodi Brown was employed as an officer by the NYPD. Brown was promoted to detective in 2015 after being named in seven lawsuits alleging misconduct against him. Since his promotion, Brown has been a named defendant in 30 lawsuits with settlement payments totaling $1.3 million and counting.

Abdiel Anderson was hired as an officer by the NYPD in 2003. After being accused of misconduct in two civil suits, Anderson was promoted to detective in 2008. Since then, Anderson has been named in a whopping 43 lawsuits, with settlements reaching over $500,000 so far.

Last but not least, Eugene Keller, hired as an NYPD officer in 2012, was named in three suits before his promotion to detective in 2022. Suits naming Keller have thus far cost NYC taxpayers more than $4.1 million.   



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