Cop who attacked pregnant woman may only lose vacation days • Brooklyn Paper

Cop who attacked pregnant woman may only lose vacation days

Justice dis-served: Sandra Amezquita is outraged that the cop who threw her to the ground while she was pregnant may only lose vacation days as a penalty.
Photo by Jason Speakman

For cops who lash out at civilians, its no vacation — literally.

The only punishment for the officer who investigators say used excessive force against a pregnant woman in Sunset Park in 2014 may be to lose some vacation days.

The news outraged one local activist, who said the Civilian Complaint Review Board — which investigates complaints of police brutality and hate speech — is a sham.

“We all believe the CCRB is a joke,” said activist Dennis Flores, who formed the police watchdog group El Grito de Sunset Park in reaction to perceived police overreach. “It’s a waste of time.”

The civilian-comprised board independently investigates complaints against police — determining whether there is evidence of overreach and recommending disciplinary measures for offending officers.

The board substantiated claims that two unnamed officers used force against a pregnant Sunset Park woman and two of her relatives when they arrested her son for knife possession last year.

A video shot by El Grito shows officers throwing the visibly pregnant woman to the ground and piling on her.

The board substantiated three out of seven of the complaints against the officers — a higher success rate than is typical.

Normally the panel finds evidence to corroborate only about 21 percent of claims, board director Mina Malik stated in a July report.

Still, the complaint board only recommended the officer forfeit a maximum of 10 vacation days, documents show.

But the police department ultimately sets the penalties, and it’s unclear whether commanders took up the recommendation, because the department did not respond to a request for comment.

In any event, the penalty won’t fit the alleged crime, Flores said.

“It’s a slap on the wrist,” he said. “I personally believe that these types of cops should be fired.”

The likely lax punishment is the latest in a long line of police department missteps when dealing with the Sunset Park community, Flores said.

El Grito held a town hall in October in which residents and activists lashed out at police brass for attacks against Amezquita and a separate case where police beat up a street vendor and then accused him of being the aggressor.

During the meeting, El Grito showed a super cut of cop-on-civilian violence in Sunset Park. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton did not attend, but he later used the video to illustrate to top department officials “the brutal, the corrupt, the racist, the incompetent” officers who he aimed to weed out of the department, according to a Daily News article.

But the commissioner hasn’t put his money where his mouth was, according to Flores, suggesting Bratton’s move was lip service.

“There’s no action behind his words,” Flores said. “This is a perfect example of why communities of color distrust police.”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.

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