How the NYPD Gets Away With It

JFREJ staff organizer Julia Carmel Salazar investigates sexual misconduct by the NYPD and the laws and culture that enable it in Jacobin Magazine. Join JFREJ to get updates on how you can take action to hold the NYPD accountable and prevent further abuses. 

How the NYPD Gets Away With It
Julia Carmel, 3/22/2018

The Anna Chambers case has exposed the entrenched political power wielded by police.

Last September, eighteen-year-old Anna Chambers was driving through South Brooklyn’s Calvert Vaux Park with two of her friends when they were pulled over by an unmarked police van. Two NYPD officers emerged from the van, justifying the traffic stop by simply citing that the park was closed for the evening. But when the officers approached Anna’s car, they demanded to search it for drugs.

The police officers allegedly found a small bag of marijuana in the car and confiscated pills from one of the two male passengers — but they only arrested Anna. The cops handcuffed Anna and reportedly drove her to an empty parking lot, where they raped and sexually violated her in the back of the unmarked van, concealed by its dark tinted windows. After assaulting the young woman, the NYPD officers — who’ve since been identified as Brooklyn South Narcotics detectives Richard Hall and Edward Martins — dropped Anna off on a street corner. Hall and Martins never processed the arrest at the precinct and never drafted a police report about the incident. If left to the judgment of the NYPD’s 60th Precinct in that moment, any evidence of the officers’ crimes would have been erased.

Instead, Anna went to the hospital later that night to seek treatment, where she was administered a standard sexual assault forensic exam, more commonly known as a “rape kit.” When Anna detailed what the two detectives had done to her earlier that evening, the hospital staff followed the standard procedure for responding to sexual assault: they reported it to the New York City Police Department.

The results of Anna’s forensic and medical exams would later reveal Officer Hall’s and Martins’ DNA, providing the strongest evidence to be used in the case against the two officers, who are now facing criminal charges including rape, kidnapping, and twenty counts of sex abuse. In fact, Hall and Martins concede that they engaged in the sexual acts — but claim that the encounter with Anna was entirely consensual, and have therefore pleaded not guilty. Hall and Martins’ legal counsel are able to mount the two officers’ defense largely upon a harrowing fact: In New York state, it’s not illegal for police officers to have sex with the civilians in their custody.

This legal loophole demonstrates a failure of the law to recognize the inherently unequal power dynamic between police officers and civilians. It also demonstrates the protected legal privileges that cops are awarded over most other members of society.

Read the rest here: https://jacobinmag.com/2018/03/anna-chambers-nypd-sexual-assault-police-reform