The Queens District Attorney’s office on Wednesday made public its database of 65 police officers with credibility problems, following the release of similar lists in the Bronx and Brooklyn.
The office of acting Queens DA John Ryan, responding to a Freedom of Information Law request by several media agencies, including the Daily News, unveiled those officers with “substantiated misconduct allegations, criminal matters, adverse credibility findings and civil lawsuits.”
The data dump on the day before Thanksgiving is traditionally the time agencies release unflattering information to the public.
In the latest list, more than half of the 65 officers show up in a similar database released by Brooklyn D.A. Eric Gonzalez last month.
Many of the names are familiar to watchers of police misconduct, including Richard Danese, who was accused of dumping a 14-year-old Staten Island boy in a swamp without his shoes or shirt as punishment for throwing eggs at cars on Halloween 2007; and Det. Niurca Quinones, who showed a photo of a triple-rape suspect to a victim in Brooklyn before she picked him out of a lineup, leading a judge to call for a mistrial.
Two others, Edward Babington and the now-retired Gregory Jean-Baptiste, were named in federal lawsuits accusing them of implicating gun suspects so they could pocket reward money for found firearms.
“New Yorkers should be able to rely on police officers to tell the truth, but too often, that is not the case, and officers are caught telling lies on the witness stand and in their official reports,” said Tim Rountree, the Legal Aid Society’s lead trial attorney in Queens.
“We welcome this list from the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, however, this is just a small step towards the transparency required to root out problems of police misconduct."
The list’s release drew broad criticism from the city’s police unions.
“Our prosecutors need to wake up and realize that the pro-criminal advocates cannot be appeased. They will not stop until they have baselessly smeared the reputation of every single police officer and rendered any criminal prosecution impossible,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association.
Though the D.A.’s office didn’t offer any specific reason why the officers were added to the list, a review of federal court documents shows that 14 of the officers who appear in both the Queens and Brooklyn databases gave testimony in seven federal cases that a judge believed was untrue.
Each of those cases involved the officers searching a convicted felon during a street stop and finding a gun. When defense lawyers challenged the validity of those stops, the officers gave illogical and implausible reasons for why they believed they had probable cause to believe the suspects were packing heat, documents show.
Ed Mullins, who heads the Sergeants Benevolent Association, wondered why prosecutors aren’t releasing similar lists of questionable assistant district attorneys, and said none of the officers on the list have had the chance to clear their names.
“What is the baseline for this? It’s so ambiguous,” he said. “We haven’t had an opportunity to discuss any of these names.”