It goes without saying that most people with the New York Police Department are upstanding, responsible and moral police officers. But when an officer falls, he or she falls hard. There is no excuse for police officers using their positions of power to intimidate or brutalize New Yorkers, and when some of them do, they should be held responsible. In addition to sanctions at work or through the criminal justice system, police officers and departments can also be sued.
It is unknown if an East Village woman ever filed a lawsuit against the officers who she says visited her home on several occasions in August 2011. Dubbed the “rape cops,” the supervising officer was alleged to have raped the woman while she was drunk. His partner apparently napped on her couch during the entire encounter. This was not, however, the only time that the officers went to the woman’s apartment. The complaint says they returned three times, and each return visit was listed as official misconduct by the courts.
Though the officer’s attorneys argued that the men did not receive any kind of benefit from the visits and, thus, it could not be official misconduct, the court disagreed. The appeals panel stated that the benefit that the officer received was the “prospect of sexual relations” with the woman. In the end, the officer who was accused of raping the woman was sentenced to one year in prison, but he was acquitted of rape. His partner received a 60-day sentence.
Even as these officers were sentenced to prison for their misconduct, it may not have been enough for the woman who was terrorized by them. Fortunately, many people who are subject to official police misconduct can file lawsuits against the officers and the department for the financial and emotional costs associated with the officers’ actions.
Source: New York Daily News, “NYPD ‘rape cops’ headed to jail for brief sentences after appeal fails,” Janon Fisher, Nov. 8, 2012
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