New York police lacked training, used excessive force during summer protests, city investigation finds

Jonathan Allen
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: NYPD officers detain demonstrator during a Black Lives Matter protest in Manhattan

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Police Department used excessive force during the wave of protests across the city this summer against police brutality and racism, according to a report published on Friday morning by New York City's Department of Investigation.

Mayor Bill de Blasio asked for the investigation in May as social media became deluged with cellphone videos showing police officers dousing protesters, elected officials and journalists with chemical irritants, shoving and hitting them while they struggled on the ground and, in one instance, driving police vehicles into them.

The report said the NYPD's response was excessive in part because most police officers involved had not received "relevant training" in policing protests.

"The NYPD's use of force and certain crowd control tactics to respond to the Floyd protests produced excessive enforcement that contributed to heightened tensions," the Department of Investigation said in the executive summary of its 111-page report.

The daily New York City protests were a prominent part of what quickly became a nationwide and international movement prompted in part by anger over George Floyd, a Black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer, and Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed in her Louisville home by white police officers during a botched raid.

De Blasio, who repeatedly defended his police department's conduct during the protests, said he agreed with the report's findings.

"It makes very clear we've got to do something different, and we've got to do something better," he said in a video statement released by City Hall.

The report concluded that the city's unusual system of three distinct, sometimes overlapping agencies conducting oversight of the police department had caused problems. It recommended that the city create a single independent police oversight agency.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea in a statement called the summer a "difficult period" and thanked the Department of Investigation for "20 logical and thoughtful recommendations that I intend to incorporate into our future policy and training."

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)