New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the city of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and NYPD Commissioner Tim Shea, alleging years of widespread civil rights abuses, including at protests over the summer, NBC News reports.
The lawsuit details years of excessive force and invalid arrests by the city’s police force, most recently during protests against police brutality in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.
"As the demonstrations continued, the very thing being protested — aggressive actions of law enforcement — was on public display," James said during a press conference, adding that it was the first time in history the state attorney general has sued the NYPD.
James launched an investigation at the behest of Gov. Andrew Cuomo after last year’s protests.
James calls for reforms:
James called for a monitor to supervise the department’s policing tactics at future demonstrations and a court order ruling that the policies enacted for last year’s protests were illegal.
She is also calling for police reforms to address "the problematic policies and training failures that are outlined in the complaint."
James said her investigation had shown "an egregious abuse of police power, rampant excessive use of force and leadership unable and unwilling to stop it."
"That's why we are seeking systemic reforms to the NYPD and the installation of a monitor to oversee the NYPD's policing tactics in future protests and to ensure they are complying with the law," James said. "With today's lawsuit, this longstanding pattern of brutal and illegal force ends."
Illegal force allegations:
The lawsuit says that numerous officers "repeatedly and without justification used batons, fist strikes, pepper spray, and other physical force" against protesters between May and December.
New York City’s Department of Investigation also previously found that the NYPD used excessive force during the demonstrations.
"The NYPD's use of force and certain crowd control tactics to respond to the Floyd protests produced excessive enforcement that contributed to heightened tensions," the NYC DOI said.
De Blasio said he agreed with that report’s findings and said it "makes very clear we've got to do something different, and we've got to do something better."