Corruption in the 42nd
October 10, 2018 12:09 PM   Subscribe

The State Sponsored Conspiracy to Destroy Pedro Hernandez Shaun King, journalist and co-founder of Real Justice PAC, has leveled charges against NYC 42nd Precinct detectives and an Assistant District Attorney that puts most conspiracy theories to shame.

A multi-year long campaign to ruin one teenager's life turns out to expose a long, horrifying campaign of corruption by NYC detectives and prosecutors. False witnesses intimidated into lying, fictitious crimes and lives ruined by prison without conviction.
posted by OnTheLastCastle (32 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
There is a video in the first link that shows Pedro being beaten by a detention facility officer. It is very disturbing as a warning. This video was covered and never followed up on by the prosecutor's office, until a private detective was able to obtain it and release it to journalists 20 months later.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:11 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]

I need to come back to this because there is a lot here. A lot. But if you're wondering whether or not to dive in, this is a passage from the third link:

Just three days after Donald Trump was inaugurated, New York City agreed to something that is so scandalous, so huge, that only the incoming presidency of Donald Trump could’ve outshined it. New York City agreed to pay $75 million (that’s $75,000,000) out in a police corruption case that should’ve rocked the city and the nation to its core. They likely chose that date and time on purpose. The case had been in litigation for years and years, but the city chose one of the most fragile, news heavy times in the history of modern American media to drop an absolute bomb. The city admitted that it was forced to dismiss over 900,000 arrests and summonses because they simply didn’t have the evidence to back them.
posted by nubs at 12:27 PM on October 10 [31 favorites]

I'm about 1/3rd of the way through and need to stop reading.

I must say this though, it's somewhat help for me to re-write "New York City agreed to pay $75 million (that’s $75,000,000) out in a police corruption case" to "New York City stole 75$ million dollars from hardworking taxpayers (and those in the financial industry) to pay for it's crimes that should have sent Police Officers and Prosecutors to jail for the rest of their lives."

Maybe I'll be able to stomach reading more of this, but for now, no.
posted by el io at 12:37 PM on October 10 [22 favorites]

What. The Fuck.
posted by odinsdream at 12:39 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]

This was published in August 2017. In September 2017, the case against Pedro Hernandez for the shooting of Shaun Nardoni was dismissed and "[D.A. Darcel D.] Clark made it clear her public integrity unit would delve into allegations that the police coerced witnesses." Earlier this week, two remaining charges were dismissed, conditional on Hernandez completing a semeter of college. He maintains his innocence in those cases as well but said, "I didn’t get to prove it to them in a trial but I am going to prove it to them by going to school and show them my transcript and show them that I’m ready to move on with my life."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:40 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]

If Mr. Hernandez enrolls in a college in January 2019, completes the semester, and provides proof, we will move to dismiss both cases,” Bronx DA Darcel Clark said in a statement.

“We believe this disposition will give Mr. Hernandez the opportunity to put his life on the right path to succeed. Now it is up to him.”

After reading the article and then this, I have to say to DA Clark, 'go fuck yourself and your generosity'. What a pathetic attempt to spin something positivity out of absolute corruption. As if Pedro owes anything to these assholes for his path, he succeeded despite these goons.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:46 PM on October 10 [11 favorites]

I mean, let's pretend that this guy is a gang leader/criminal mastermind who is responsible for at least two attempted murders, one actual murder of a mystery victim, and several armed robberies, but has successfully intimidated a dozen witnesses into recanting their testimony or pointing the finger at someone else. The DA is now saying that successfully completing a semester of college is proof that he is no longer a danger to society?
posted by muddgirl at 12:50 PM on October 10 [11 favorites]

Yes, it is over a year old, and I'm still somewhat amazed that I've never heard of it.

The third link is the first in a 5 part series of stories covering what was going on the 42nd Precinct of the NYPD. Here is Part 2 and Part 3. Haven't been able to find Parts 4 & 5 yet.
posted by nubs at 12:52 PM on October 10

It's a fringe opinion in this country that we should abolish the police. With stuff like this, I don't understand why it's not mainstream. The police are useless. They do not provide andyreal service to communities they are meant to serve. And even if they do, the corruption, death, violence, and terror inflicted by police on various communities and individuals is more than enough reason to get rid of them.
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:52 PM on October 10 [19 favorites]

Sarah Wallace reports that Pedro's sister Ivanyele who was also caught up in the last burglary charge is going to pursue a degree in criminal justice.
posted by muddgirl at 12:58 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]

Previously on Mefi
posted by lalochezia at 1:07 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

...we should abolish the police...

After the rioting provoked when Baltimore police caused the death of Freddie Gray, the police pulled back in early 2015, basically saying, "You don't like our bad policing? We'll show you what happens when we don't police." In 2014, 211 people were murdered in the city. In the three years since, it's been well over 300 every year.

Clearly, we need not choose between those two types of bad policing. We need good policing - especially the poorest and most vulnerable populations, because "Crime, particularly violent crime, is very regressive in its impact, often concentrated in a society’s most economically marginalized and racially segregated communities."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:07 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]

I read the 3rd part first (it's the first link); it's probably the most compelling as it's about the personal campaign of harassment directed at Pedro Hernandez, which seems to be related to his mother's rejection of a sexually harassing advance by a detective.

The 1st part ("a long, horrifying campaign...") discusses the NYPD 12 and the 900,000 thrown-out cases. It's basically Serpico, scaled up by an order of magnitude. I'm surprised none of them have died mysteriously of self-inflicted gunshot wounds (in the back) yet.

This seems like the sort of thing that a long-form magazine (or, hell, even Buzzfeed) would be interested in; I think the author needs a good editor but he's clearly done his homework. How has this stuff been floating around online for a year and not gone viral yet, or gotten picked up by a major publication?
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:11 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

Do police officers in NYC use surety bonds? Seems like Virginia does. Being bondable should be a precondition of employment for all cops in the country. If you've been involved in repeated settlements for incidents of abuse you get locked out of the profession.
posted by benzenedream at 1:23 PM on October 10 [7 favorites]

> It's a fringe opinion in this country that we should abolish the police. With stuff like this, I don't understand why it's not mainstream. The police are useless. They do not provide andyreal service to communities they are meant to serve. And even if they do, the corruption, death, violence, and terror inflicted by police on various communities and individuals is more than enough reason to get rid of them.

My own modest proposal is to keep a police force, but rescind their service weapons. No effect on the 2nd Amendment -- private citizens can keep their legally-obtained weapons. We'll talk about arming police again when they learn to police, to deescalate, to establish authority of law without violence. I don't want to hear that it's too dangerous for the cops. The rest of us walk these streets and go about our days and assess risk without blanket permission to shoot people who scare us.

I suppose in my fantasy scenario, police officers would have the right to own/carry a gun the same as any private citizen, but they would also be held to the exact same standards for assault vs self-defense should they use that weapon.
posted by desuetude at 1:30 PM on October 10 [18 favorites]

In 2014, 211 people were murdered in the city. In the three years since, it's been well over 300 every year...
...Clearly, we need not choose between those two types of bad policing. We need good policing

I think we are arguing for the same thing here. It's just that I think that "good policing" has almost no relation to law enforcement as an institution writ large in the US today. I'd rather see "police" replaced with something like "safety officers". They don't carry guns. They don't arrest people. They don't investigate crimes. They just walk around and try to help people in their community be safe to the best of their ability. More like firefighetrs and EMTs walking a beat than law enforcement.

As for the story about murders jumping up after police say they won't police, I have two problems with it. One, if police actually have the ability to prevent murders then that's just additional evidence that police are corrupt and those deaths are their fault.

Two, I don't actually think police have any strong effect on crime rates. According to this article murders did jump up in 2015, but 2014 was also near a 20 year low in murders in Baltimore. Maybe that story proves some causal link but it's just one data point.

Three, whether police have an effect on the crime rate isn't a reason to keep a fundamentally corrupt system in place. There's some (anecdotal) evidence that cardboard cutouts reduce crime. Let's try that for a while. Cardboard cutouts rarely beat citizens up or frame them for crimes.
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:32 PM on October 10 [9 favorites]

Shaun King tweeted about this today, I did not realize his article was from over a year ago. Let's get it going!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:05 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Tweet thread
He tweeted about it because of the latest dismissal of charges against Hernandez.
posted by clauclauclaudia at 2:33 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]

Previously on MeFi.

I remember when this originally came out last year and was curious why Shaun King was posting the charges on Medium, as he was a columnist for the NY Daily News. I see now that he says he quit over how they covered this story.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:34 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Right, replacing the cops with nothing being a bad plan isn't a compelling argument against the idea that we need to get rid of cops. Just that we need a plan for when we do so, which I don't think is a controversial idea among people who'd like to abolish cops.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:42 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

Yes, but what everyone is telling you is that whatever you replace them with will, eventually, also be some kind of cop
posted by Merus at 5:21 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]

Yes the whole "but if we didn't have cops who's gonna do all the good cop-things in our world" is really missing the point. Cops and literally all they function as in our society is fucking broken and needs to be rebuilt.
posted by odinsdream at 8:21 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]

That isn't to say we need to have a comprehensive plan in order to recognize that cops have become such an absolutely immoral threat to people that they must be abolished now, first, and then we figure out what to do to rebuild a better society.
posted by odinsdream at 8:23 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]

Okay, let me ask a question that should hopefully draw a clear distinction between American cops and the concept of policing here: let's say this comprehensive plan was to abolish an American police department and have an American ally with a community-focused, consensus-building police service establish a department instead, which would gradually train up an American police service in their mold. Somewhere like Denmark or New Zealand.

Would this be a good outcome for you?
posted by Merus at 9:46 PM on October 10

In addition to how awful the whole thing is, the worst thing for me is how much damage each arrest does to society compared to how small the benefit is to the officer or department for that arrest. That is the absolute worst kind of evil.
posted by M-x shell at 10:46 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]

I all really comes down to whether you think law enforcement in the US today is a net good or a net evil. I clearly think (and this story shows) it's a net evil and our society would function just fine without the type of professional law enforcement apparatus we have now. The other question is whether removing such a big chunk of our legal system in one go would have negative consequences. I think it would definitely have some, but then you have to ask again whether those consequences are worse than the status quo. I think they wouldn't be worse, but you can never account for unintended consequences. Maybe removing the police turns the whole country into a sequel to the Purge. I don't know.
posted by runcibleshaw at 7:14 AM on October 11

lol where do you think those cops will go? Not back to Narnia or whatever. They’re suddenly out of a job, but they’re armed, used to operating outside the law, and they have a lot of angry friends in the same situation.

That is a militant gang. That immediately becomes your biggest crime and possibly militant coup problem. This isn’t theoretical; it’s happened in a bunch of places where we (or some other imperial type force) has disbanded the police. This is an actual known thing.

They can’t be abolished without serious violence and ongoing instability.

I would love to get ride of the worst 25%-50% of them (or whatever we can get away with) via prosecution and then have Denmark or whoever come and retrain from the ground up. But that still is like...momentous.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:53 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]

The NYPD is a disgrace to my city and a terror to New Yorkers. It should be dissolved immediately. Our safety and quality of life would still increase if every cop was replaced by an orangutan on crystal meth.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:32 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]

And Bill de Blasio is absolutely pathetic. He desperately wants the NYPD's approval and he will never get it. He should go all in against them on reforming the department, but he's weak and afraid.
posted by Mavri at 8:46 AM on October 11

I grew up in a community that literally didn't have any police. It is not a system that scales. I watched it fall apart as the community grew.*

And it's no great shakes even when it does function, because your social standing is tied to your relationships with other people—even today when I go home, I don't introduce myself as myself, I introduce myself as [myname, myfathersname's son], because nobody gives a shit who I am. But as my father's son I have some standing (enough to get a 10% discount at NAPA and for the bartender not to ignore me). And, as you'd expect, some people are basically untouchable and other people exist to be kicked around by others. Like basically every small town ever.

That was the human condition for a very long time, and modern policing was created, in part and amidst rising crime, as an alternative to that sort of thing.

Does that mean you need a modern, American, NYPD-style, unabashedly paramilitary, thin-blue-line, unaccountable police force? No. Something that started from Peel's Principles—particularly the one about "the police are the public and that the public are the police"—and worked up from there would do.

But "abolish the police" doesn't seem to really capture what the desired end-state is, and I don't even know if it's likely to be effective as a sort of Overton Window-shifting maneuver or shot-across-the-bow of the existing police. It's not hard for people to imagine a worse situation than exists at present, Hollywood has seen to that.

There are a lot of very concrete reforms that could be taken—requiring anyone with powers of arrest to live in their precinct would be a start (hell, in NYC requiring them to live in the same borough would be progress), and would drive hiring from the community. Foot policing vs. cars. An end to the quota system, official or otherwise. Creating an independent board to review all allegations of misconduct, consisting of citizens drawn at random (basically a standing grand jury, with members serving a week or two at a time).

You could pick any of those as a first step; what the national discussion needs is a "Fight for $15"-style concrete, meaningful goal.

* I have a personal theory that the limiting size to communities that can operate without coercive authority is related to Dunbar's number, in particular it's about the square of Dunbar's number, using a low-ish estimate for the latter, because that's the maximum value at which everyone is, if not known to you personally, than at least known to someone who is known to you personally. I.e. you can't harm anyone without that harm coming back around to you via one of your direct relationships.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:50 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]

Here's a data point:
The NYPD has about 38,000 uniformed officers, while the whole state of Victoria, Australia has about 15,000.

The population of New York is pretty comparable to that of Victoria, (8.6 vs 6.4 million) and its area is much less (about .5%) so it looks to me as though New York is over-policed. And it's not as if the greater number and higher concentration of police has made New York comparatively crime-free: its homicide rate is about 1.5 times greater than Victoria's.

Anyway, I don't know how meaningful this is (different populations, access to firearms, etc.) but it's a significant difference and the greater relative strength and concentration of New York's police force might e.g. create a feeling of impunity, or foster a desire to create and/or "solve" non-existent crimes.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:27 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]

"That isn't to say we need to have a comprehensive plan in order to recognize that cops have become such an absolutely immoral threat to people that they must be abolished now, first, and then we figure out what to do to rebuild a better society."

We kind of do. These systems are kept in place because of widespread public fear of crime. The people who want to abolish law enforcement/the criminal justice system as we understand it can't just shrug when asked what do we do instead, especially when they've had decades of not having the power and public support to change it to compose an answer.
posted by Selena777 at 10:29 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]

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