New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for excessive use of force, including the use of brutal force against protesters in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police inspired protests around the country, including in New York City, where cops were found to have unjustifiably used pepper spray and batons—as well as other methods of force—against the thousands who had taken to the streets against police brutality.
"There is no question that the NYPD engaged in a pattern of excessive, brutal, and unlawful force against peaceful protesters," James on Thursday. "Over the past few months, the NYPD has repeatedly and blatantly violated the rights of New Yorkers, inflicting significant physical and psychological harm and leading to great distrust in law enforcement. With today's lawsuit, this longstanding pattern of brutal and illegal force ends. No one is above the law—not even the individuals charged with enforcing it."
A press release from the AG's office includes an overview of the background of the suit, noting that thousands of protesters took to the streets across NYC to protest Floyd's death, the police killing of Breonna Taylor, and other examples of blatant police brutality. Those protesters, per the AG, were often met with acts of violence from NYPD officers. Specific examples cited by the AG's office include striking protesters with blunt instruments at least 50 times, unlawful deployment of pepper spray against protesters in at least 30 incidents, and unreasonable force via pushing or striking protesters on at least 75 different occasions.
James' newly announced suit charges the NYPD, the City of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan with failing to address these patterns of abuse.