NEW YORK, NY — In a city that has established itself as the “marijuana bust capital of the world” with a police department under fire for racially biased ”stop and frisk” searches, a Daily News investigation has now revealed that a rogue Brooklyn narcotics team has cost New York over $1.5 million in settlements, even while the officer in charge of the team was being promoted.
NYPD Lt. Daniel Sbarra and his rogue narc squad have been hit with nearly 60 lawsuits, with at least 15 cases involving him personally.
Those lawsuits include charges ranging from racial profiling slinging racial slurs to the unprovoked beating of a man in front of his young son.
The city’s Law Department, who defends the cases, seemed unconcerned.
“Being named in a lawsuit or settlement is not an accurate barometer for evaluating an officer’s conduct,” the Law Department said in a statement. “For example, an officer who works in high-impact roles, such as narcotics or emergency services, is more likely to be sued in his or her line of duty than an officer in a less confrontational role.”
Lt. Sbarra has also reportedly been the target of five to 10 Internal Affairs investigations, and has racked up a staggering 30 civilian complaints, among the most on the entire New York Police Department force.
Despite the piles of allegations and the pricey payouts, the lieutenant, who reportedly earns over $102,000 per year, said in a 2012 deposition he was never disciplined for his then-12 lawsuits, and was promoted four months after he was docked 20 vacation days due to an Internal Affairs investigation.
The Daily News investigation identified nearly five dozen suits filed against Sbarra and 15 members of his team between 2006 and 2011.
They were accused of everything from racial profiling to warrantless searches to busting law-abiding citizens on phony charges.Yet when asked in the 2012 deposition how many times he had disciplined officers under him, Sbarra said only twice — because his boss ordered him to.
“That was the only time I’ve ever written a command discipline in my nine-year career as supervisor,” he said.
Sbarra has been named in 30 complaints to the Civilian Complaint Review Board,a place where citizens can speak freely about problem officers and their misbehavior.
Only 54 members of the NYPD’s 35,000-person force have received more than 21 complaints; and 91% of the force has received fewer than five complaints, according to information provided by the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
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