Police watchdog agency weighs rule changes that would expand its power to investigate misconduct

Lawsuit: NYPD is skipping court, taking people with outstanding warrants directly to Rikers

When police cease somebody with a bench warrant, they’re required to take that individual to courtroom to see a choose. However a brand new federal lawsuit alleges NYPD officers have been transporting people to Rikers Island illegally, the place they have to look ahead to days in troublesome jail circumstances earlier than their paperwork is cleared up. Lawyer M.Ok. Kaishian is a kind of suing. She joined WNYC Morning Version host Michael Hill to speak in regards to the go well with. The story was first reported on the information web site Hell Gate.

Michael Hill: Good morning and welcome to Morning Version.

M.Ok. Kaishian: Good morning. Thanks a lot for having me.

You are most welcome. Would you stroll us by means of this NYPD coverage of skipping courts and taking people they discover with outstanding warrants directly to Rikers? Why ought to the arrested individual first have to seem earlier than a choose?

Positive. So when a bench warrant is issued for an individual’s arrest, that signifies that they’re already a part of both an energetic case or a case that was closed, however in some way not resolved, both due to error or due to some challenge that arose after the conclusion of the case.

What police are supposed to do once they cease anyone is run their identify and if there is a bench warrant that seems that’s related with that individual’s identify, they’re supposed to, below the felony procedures legal guidelines in New York, take that individual directly to courtroom with out what’s known as pointless delay. Meaning simply take them directly earlier than the choose of a courtroom that issued that bench warrant in order that any outstanding issues will be resolved.

Now, this is necessary as a result of a choose, the courtroom, courtroom workers are in the most effective place to decide a number of issues. First, whether or not that bench warrant is really legitimate. A number of people within the go well with that we had been bringing had warrants stated had really been resolved and there was an error that made them present up as nonetheless energetic. But additionally that individual then is ready to both resolve their case on the spot in entrance of that choose or have a future courtroom date set for his or her look to resolve the case, which implies there is no uncertainty as to once they’re supposed to come again to courtroom. And what we see taking place as an alternative is that police are bringing people directly to Rikers Island and different metropolis jails into DOC [Department of Correction] custody, successfully kidnapping them and inserting them in jail with no future courtroom date the place they languish indefinitely till somebody is ready to increase the alarm about the place they’re and petition the courtroom for launch.

M.Ok., you used the phrase kidnapping in your submitting there. How does it rise to the extent of kidnapping?

Kidnapping in New York is when somebody restricts the actions of one other individual unlawfully. It is an abduction. And that is actually what is taking place right here. We’re seeing the NYPD and the DOC by means of their failure to do something in regards to the people of their custody who haven’t got these future courtroom dates actually breaking the legislation so as to maintain people indefinitely with none type of due course of, with out alerting a lawyer or their family members as to the place they’re and with out following the legislation. And it is necessary to word that the circumstances at Rikers Island and in different metropolis jails, as we properly know, actually do rise to the extent of an acute humanitarian disaster.

So these people are introduced there unlawfully after which are experiencing those self same utterly inhumane circumstances that different detainees there at Rikers are experiencing as properly.

Inform us about one or two of your purchasers, plaintiffs who’ve been subjected to this.

Positive. So the primary named consumer on this case is Paul Phillips. Mr. Phillips was stopped in upstate New York and Westchester County on a warrant that had been issued in 1989. So a greater than 30-year-old warrant confirmed up as related with Mr. Phillips’s identify. Now this was clearly an error. The police actually ought to have understood that from the get-go. Mr. Phillips had appeared in courtroom subsequently to that. His historical past would have clearly demonstrated {that a} 1989 warrant would have been resolved by the courtroom by the point he was stopped most just lately on this identical case. Nevertheless, nonetheless, he was introduced directly to Rikers Island the place he languished for days. He has medical circumstances that he alerted the police to, and DOC too that weren’t handled. He was allowed to undergo horrible bodily and psychological anguish till he was launched when a choose issued a lower slip for him. And Mr. Phillips importantly was by no means, ever introduced earlier than a choose. He simply had an advocate on the surface who was ready to determine the place he was and safe his launch. However actually earlier than that occurred he endured hell. And the identical factor is true for the subsequent named plaintiff, Khaori Wright. And Mr. Wright really entered Rikers Island with a pre-existing damage that resulted in his jaw being wired shut. However as we all know, the meals on Rikers Island is inedible even in the most effective circumstances. And Mr. Wright was unable to eat with his jaw wired shut and DOC was not ready to feed him. And so he was in for about 17 days and misplaced roughly 20 kilos whereas he was incarcerated. So the people that this is taking place to are enduring simply nightmarish and hellish circumstances.

M.Ok., give us an thought of what number of have been despatched to Rikers with out going earlier than a choose.

The issue is, Michael, that we actually do not know the reply to that query. A part of the issue right here is that people are being disappeared into metropolis jails with no hint. There is no file that this is taking place as a result of they are not being introduced earlier than a choose. They are not given a future courtroom date. They do not have a lawyer, an advocate, standing subsequent to them advocating for his or her finest pursuits and understanding the place they’re and understanding once they’re going to be seen once more. As a substitute, they’re being introduced directly to these jails and positioned inside till somebody figures out the place they’re. So it is utterly attainable that there are people inside proper now who this has occurred to, and we want to know whether or not that is the case.

M.Ok., rapidly right here. What’s your purpose with this lawsuit?

Our purpose is for the NYPD and DOC to be particularly forbidden from ever doing this once more. This is utterly unacceptable apply.

Now, the felony process statute does enable in sure circumstances for an individual to be introduced to a jail for one enterprise day till a courtroom is open once more. Nevertheless, that exception simply is not relevant in New York Metropolis the place courts do function three hundred and sixty five days a yr, together with in a single day.

M.Ok., we’ll have to go away it there. Thanks very a lot for becoming a member of us. The NYPD instructed WNYC it doesn’t touch upon pending litigation. M.Ok., thanks as soon as once more.

Thanks a lot for having me.

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