Nearly two dozen Bronx residents, mostly teen boys and their mothers, have filed or are planning to file lawsuits against one police detective for false arrest and intimidation. The cop is also accused of offering better treatment in exchange for sex with one kid's mom.
And those are just the lawsuits being represented by one attorney, John Scola. The officer, Det. David Terrell, has been sued at least seven other times, according to the New York Daily News, which reports that two of those suits are still pending, three were dismissed, and two ended in settlements totaling $70,000.
Terrell was put on desk duty (or "modified assignment") last November following an off-duty domestic violence incident, the Daily News reports. Shortly after that, tape emerged of Terrell playing dice in the neighborhood while a suspect sat in his squad car unattended. One of the eyewitnesses to the game said Terrell first frisked the group, then offered a game of dice to determine whether he'd take them in or not.
The 42nd precinct, where Terrell is stationed, has also racked up a lot of police misconduct complaints as a group. An even 100 complaints were filed against officers based at the precinct in 2016. In 2015 the precinct collected 106 complaints.
This is the kind of employee that in any sort of functional organization would have been dismissed long ago. But government agencies don't have to react to poor customer service or pay the price of customers taking their business elsewhere. There will always be taxpayers to extort. Meanwhile, government unions have negotiated expansive employment privileges and protections, while state governments have codified many of these privileges into law enforcement officers' "bills of rights."
The situation creates an environment that thwarts accountability and transparency, where problem cops become bigger problems and help breed a culture of abuse.
"They're all corrupt, but there's nothing I can do because the system is so powerful," says Tamel Dixon, who was arrested in school as a 16-year-old and whose mother was among the first to sue Terrell, alleging that he body-slammed her after she pleaded for him and other cops to stop assaulting her son. She was arrested for resisting arrest and obstructing government administration.
It took six months for prosecutors to drop the charges. None of the cops have been dismissed.