The following are descriptions of actual CCRB complaints where the board made different findings. These cases will give you a sense of what goes into the different board decisions.
Read more about the different investigative outcomes
Some identifying details have been changed, such as locations, names, and precise dates, in order to protect confidentiality. But the key details of the encounters and the investigations remain the same.
Substantiated Case Profile
It was 9:30 pm, February 3, 2010, and two friends were driving to a McDonalds in a 2006 Tan Honda Civic when they were pulled over by a police patrol car. The two officers ordered the friends out of the car, frisked them both, searched the driver, and searched the interior of the car without the driver’s permission.
One of the officers told the driver that they stopped him because his car fit the description of a vehicle that was used by a suspect to flee the scene of an earlier shooting. This was also the officers’ testimony when they were interviewed at the CCRB. The CCRB investigator obtained the complaint report (UF-61) on the shooting and it contained no mention of a vehicle. The investigator also interviewed the woman who had filed the report and she never knew whether the shooter fled in a car and never saw a car flee the scene after the shooting.
Courts have deemed that “police may stop a vehicle based upon a reasonable suspicion that the driver or occupants of the vehicle have committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime.” Since the investigation found no connection between any shooting and the vehicle, the officers lacked sufficient cause to establish reasonable suspicion justifying the stop. Because the officers did not observe anything on the civilians to indicate the presence of a weapon, such as a bulge, they lacked cause to frisk and search them. There was also nothing to indicate a substantial likelihood that there was a weapon in the car or that an “actual and specific danger” to the police existed, and therefore the car search was also deemed improper. Accordingly, the complaint was substantiated.
Read another substantiated case profile
Exonerated Case Profile
A woman was involved in a dispute at her bank over the availability of funds in her account. She acknowledged arguing loudly with bank employees for over an hour and demanding her money. She alleged that the police officer who had been summoned threw her out of the bank by putting her in a “full nelson,” which is a painful wrestling hold.
A CCRB investigator obtained video footage from four different bank security cameras that provided multiple perspectives on the incident. The video clearly revealed that the officer never used a “full Nelson” on the complainant and used only minimal and necessary force to escort her out of the bank. Therefore, the board determined that the allegation of improper use of force was exonerated.
Read another exonerated case profile
Unfounded Case Profile
An MTA bus driver was pulling away from a bus stop and inching into the center lane of a busy Bronx street, when he hit a police car. The bus driver alleged that the officer who’d been driving the car, jumped out, banged on his door and started screaming obscenities at him and threatening to put him in “f*****g cuffs.”
The CCRB interviewed three passengers who were seated in the front of the bus and witnessed the interaction between the bus driver and the officer. While the witnesses said the officer banged on the door to get the bus driver’s attention, they contradicted the driver’s allegations that the officer used an obscenity and threatened to arrest him. Because this preponderance of credible evidence indicated that no discourtesy or abuse of authority occurred, the board decided the complaint was unfounded.
Unsubstantiated Case Profile
The complainant had been involved in a fender bender and called for police assistance. A patrol car responded, and the complainant alleged that the officers were reluctant to write an accident report. He said that he walked up to the patrol car and spoke through an open window to the officer sitting on the passenger side, asking for her name and badge number, and then the officer responded by rolling up her window.
Both officers denied in their CCRB interviews that the driver had ever asked for a name and badge number. There were no other witnesses. Because the accounts of the driver and the officers were generally consistent about the other circumstances surrounding the incident, the CCRB could not credit one account over the other concerning the abuse of authority allegation (failure to provide name and badge number) and the case was closed as unsubstantiated.
Read another unsubstantiated case profile