The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Village of Freeport Police Department for allegedly denying the group access to police misconduct records.
The civil rights group said the police department has denied its Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests for records of misconduct that did and did not lead to discipline of an officer. The group also said the department denied its administrative appeal of that denied request in December 2020. The lawsuit comes after the repeal of New York’s 50-a law, which previously allowed police officers’ personnel records to be shielded from public scrutiny.
“[Freeport PD] cannot ignore the fact that 50-a was repealed, and police transparency is essential to police accountability,” Susan Gottehrer, Nassau County chapter director at the NYCLU, said in a statement. “We will continue to take action to ensure 50-a is repealed in theory and practice across New York State by obtaining full documentation of misconduct long withheld from the public.”
The Village of Freeport has not yet responded to the Press’ request for comment.
Freeport police came under scrutiny in 2019 after a video surfaced of officers beating Akbar Rogers, a Black man they were trying to arrest. The 58-second-long video shows several officers taking Rogers to the ground while other officers later arrive on the scene. Some of the officers are seen on video punching Rogers repeatedly while another kicks him while he’s on the ground.
Charges against Rogers were later dropped and Nassau prosecutors declined to charge the officers involved following a investigation. Rogers later filed a $25 million lawsuit against the police department.
NYCLU is receiving pro bono counsel from attorneys at Milbank LLP in the lawsuit, which is one of several it has filed across the state to uncover police misconduct records. Other suits have been filed against the Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester departments, NYCLU said.
-With Timothy Bolger