Street Justice vs. a Supreme Court Justice

A story in today's New York Times illustrates the haphazard way in which police officers are held accountable for misconduct—or, more often, not. Last week Thomas Raffaele helped his parents, who were relocating to Houston, move out of their house in Queens. After removing the last of the furniture (two tables that he donated to a neighborhood tutoring center) with the help of a friend, Raffaele was walking down 74th Street near 37th Road a lttle after midnight on Friday morning when he came upon an angry crowd gathered around two police officers who were arresting a man with what the bystanders considered unnecessary violence. Concerned that the crowd was getting out of control, Raffaele called 911 to report that the officers might need assistance. A few minutes later, Raffaele reports, one of the cops, enraged at the hecklers, randomly lashed out at him, delivering "a sharp blow to [his] throat that was like what he learned when he was trained in hand-to-hand combat in the Army."

Raffaele complained about the unprovoked assault to a sergeant on the scene, who consulted with the other officers who were present, all of whom denied seeing anything untoward. And that might have been the end of it, except that Raffaele happens to be a New York State Supreme Court justice, overseeing marriage cases in Queens. (In New York the confusingly named Supreme Court handles trials, while the highest court is the Court of Appeals.) Raffaele's position helped him get a more attentive hearing when he complained to the Internal Affairs Bureau, which is now investigating the incident. "In this instance,” the NYPD's chief spokesman told the Times, the bureau (as opposed to the Civilian Complaint Review Board) "is reviewing the complaint because it was brought to its attention by the judge, not because of the level of injury."

And what about the man whose arrest caused the crowd to gather? Raffaele, whose account "was corroborated by two people he knows who described the encounter in separate interviews," said the same officer who attacked him "was repeatedly dropping his knee into the handcuffed man's back," despite warnings from a woman who identified herself as a nurse and said "he could seriously hurt the unidentified man, who an official later said was not charged." Imagine the punishment he might have received if he had actually been accused of a crime.

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  • John Thacker||

    I'm slightly surprised that the official NYPD spokesman said "Oh yeah, we're only looking into this because a judge complained, otherwise we wouldn't bother."

  • Restoras||

    Can't say that I am. Not the sharpest tools in the shed, though they are often the bluntest.

  • ||

    Everyone knows it's true, so why not say it?

  • John Thacker||

    I suppose that's why it's New York and not the South.

    Where I was raised, just because everybody knows it's true is no reason to say it, bless their heart.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    +1 internets for "bless their heart"

  • crazyfingers||

    Who's the move sympathetic defendant, the scumbag NYPD or a NYC divorce court judge? Talk about the dredges of humanity. Let's just say I'm glad it finally happened to ones of them, and all because he tried to help, lol.

  • ||

    Keep in mind that he tried to help the cops (based upon the story). I'm guessing he thought helping cops=helping public. Silly boy.

  • johnl||

    He tried to help the cops because they were beating a handcuffed man, and he was worried, not about the man getting beaten, but that the crowd might rescue him.

  • TELLMOFF||

    Crazyfingers, you are right. I wish that the judge would have been killed by the cop and his family's pleas for justice were ignored. The ruling class belongs in hell.

  • Kroneborge||

    You wonder how many stories like this it will take before the sheeple wise up

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    [HTML sign for "infinity"]

    *too lazy to look it up*

  • TELLMOFF||

    Libertarians never wise up or rise up. They just study and publish more.

  • The Unknown Pundit||

    "... it was brought to its attention by the judge, not because of the level of injury."

    Evidently if the police assault you but you don't sustain any injury, your claim of excessive force is ignored.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    "What? I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you - you're not bleeding."

  • Anomalous||

    What say you, Dunphy?

  • Rob A.||

    Guess that judge probably won't be looking out for cops anymore.

  • pet winkel||

    despite warnings from a woman who identified herself as a nurse and said "he could seriously hurt the unidentified man, who an official later said was not charged." Imagine the punishment he might have received if he had actually been accused of a crime.

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