A Recent History of NYPD Brutality

Alberta Spruil

Date: May 2003

Alberta Spruill died of a heart attack after officers broke down her door and tossed a concussion grenade into her Harlem apartment. The 57-year-old Spruill was on her way to her long-time city government job at the time of the incident, which the NYPD says was triggered by misinformation about guns and drugs inside of the apartment. Commissioner Ray Kelly said the officers were executing a "no-knock search warrant" based on information given to them by a drug dealer who claimed that his supplier stored drugs and guns inside the apartment. The dealer also told them that he had seen people armed inside of the apartment.

Just after the explosion, Spruill was handcuffed, but released when police realized the layout of the apartment was different than what the informant had described. She initially declined medical attention, but informed police that she had a heart condition. An ambulance was requested; on the way to Harlem Hospital Center, she went into cardiac arrest. Commissioner Kelly ordered an investigation of the incident, and reassigned the lieutenant who elected to use the grenade to administrative duties. Kelly added that the informant had not given any previous information to the department and said it was unclear if the officers conducted surveillance of the apartment prior to the raid.

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