New York City is on its way to paying more than $100 million this year for lawsuits alleging police misconduct against members of the New York City Police Department, The Intercept reports. Twenty of the officers stand out over the last decade for being named in the most suits or being named in suits with the highest payouts. Of the 20, the department has promoted at least 16 of the officers, some more than once. “They’re kind of failing upwards when they’re not only staying in the department but they’re also being promoted,” said Jennvine Wong of the Cop Accountability Project at the Legal Aid Society. Last month, Legal Aid released an analysis of data on settlements in cases alleging police misconduct. Few of the officers named in lawsuits, ever face judgments in court, criminal or civil. New York City, whose lawyers defend NYPD cops, often arrange out-of-court settlements, paying huge sums to make cases go away under the frequent condition that the police admit no wrongdoing. The city has paid more than $50 million in lawsuits in the first half of this year.
The NYPD has a history of promoting officers who have been found to lie in cases or engage in misconduct. Sgt. David Grieco, a cop with the street nickname of “Bullethead,” was named in at least 17 suits between his hiring in 2006 and his first promotion in 2016. After advancing to the rank of sergeant in 2017, he was named in at least eight more suits. That promotion came less than one week after Grieco was named in his 28th suit. Since his last promotion, Grieco has been named in at least 27 additional lawsuits. Payouts for suits naming Grieco exceeded $1 million this year. Grieco is not the only officer NYPD promoted after being named in multiple lawsuits alleging misconduct. The promotions given to cops repeatedly named in lawsuits that have cost the city tens of millions of dollars suggest that the department isn’t invested in addressing misconduct. “It just becomes a cost of doing business,” Wong said. “That’s a problem.”