Nearly 200 misdemeanor convictions tied to eight former New York Police Department officers who were themselves previously convicted of crimes have been vacated at the request of the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
“While most law enforcement officials and police officers are dedicated public servants, these eight officers, who played a material role in hundreds of arrests, criminally abused their positions of power,” District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement Thursday.
The 188 misdemeanor cases occurred between 2001 and 2016, with more than half of the sentences resulting in fines or incarceration, the statement said.
The officers behind the arrests were convicted on charges that included official misconduct, perjury, bribe taking, drug sales, and stealing and selling guns from a precinct house, according to the statement.
One ex-cop was convicted of bribe receiving and official misconduct for releasing an 18-year-old woman from custody in exchange for sexual favors. Their sentences ranged from community service to more than 15 years in prison.
“These illegal actions irrevocably taint these convictions and represent a significant violation of due process rights – the foundational principle of our legal system,” Bragg said.
The prosecutor said the “collateral consequences of a conviction are significant” and the “stigma lasts a lifetime.”
Bragg’s decision to ask a judge to vacate the misdemeanor convictions came after an ongoing investigation by the DA’s Post-Conviction Justice Unit, which is reviewing more than 1,100 cases tied to 22 former cops. The district attorney obtained the list of rogue officers from public defender and advocacy groups in May 2021.
A Manhattan criminal court judge on Thursday vacated the convictions and dismissed the underlying cases, Manhattan DA spokeswoman Emily Tuttle said via email.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell stressed the officers are no longer employed by the department.
“There is zero tolerance in the NYPD for corruption or criminal activity of any kind by any member of the service,” Sewell said in a statement. “Those who betray their sworn oath to serve and protect the public have no place in the NYPD.”
The city’s Police Benevolent Association, which represents rank and file officers, declined comment.
Elizabeth Felber, director of the Wrongful Conviction Unit at The Legal Aid Society, said the people whose cases were tossed endured “hardships that should have never been allowed to happen,” including incarceration, hefty legal fees, loss of employment and severed access to critical benefits.
Felber called on district attorneys across the city to evaluate “criminal conduct by law enforcement with the same lens that is used with every other New Yorker.”