Civilian complaints against NYPD officers are down this year, especially in the months since the NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island over the summer, according to data obtained Friday by The Associated Press.
Allegations of abuse of force, abuse of authority, offensive language and discourtesy were all down, according to the data by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates misconduct allegations against police.
There were 5,004 complaints by November 2013, compared with 4,150 this year. The first half of 2014 saw a 5 percent increase, especially in abuse of authority reports, but since July, when Garner died, complaints have dropped 26 percent, particularly with allegations of use of force. It was the largest decline since the complaint review board was convened in 1993.
The figures come as New Yorkers react to the news this week that a grand jury declined to indict a police officer in Garner's death, amid a national discussion on the interaction between police officers and the communities they serve.
Garner, 43, was stopped by police July 17 on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. A video shot by an onlooker and widely viewed on the Internet shows Garner telling a group of police officers to leave him alone as they tried to arrest him. Officer Daniel Pantaleo responded by wrapping his arm around Garner's neck in what appears to be a chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy. Pantaleo and the police union have said it wasn't a chokehold but a takedown move taught by the department. In Pantaleo's grasp, the heavyset Garner, who had asthma, was heard on video repeatedly gasping, "I can't breathe!"
In delivering a vote of "no true bill" Wednesday, the grand jury determined there was not probable cause to charge Pantaleo with criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter, the two charges a source familiar with the case told NBC 4 New York jurors had been presented for consideration.
Mayor de Blasio said the complaint numbers show that reforms under his administration aimed at "bridging the gap'' between the NYPD and the community are working.
"We're steadily bringing crime down while drawing police and community closer together," he said. He touted Police Commissioner William Bratton as a force of change and said he hoped the three-day retraining on courtesy and use of force that began this week will lead to a continued drop in complaints.
In all of 2012, the board received 5,741 complaints.