• Law

    NYPD Transparency Site Leaves Out Misconduct Lawsuits Settled for Millions

    The New York Police Department touts the “transparency” of its officer database, but you’d never know about cops who rack up dozens of lawsuits and millions in payouts.

    Last year, a series of headlines in New York City buzzed with excitement about a cop with the street nickname of “Bullethead.” 

    New York Police Department Sgt. David Grieco — his actual name — had reached a milestone: Police misconduct lawsuits naming him as a defendant had exceeded $1 million in settlement payouts. Since the raft of news stories, Grieco has been named in at least two additional suits, according to publicly available information as of July, and payouts in complaints naming him have now reached $1,099,825. 

    In the 13 years it took for Grieco to be named in 48 suits alleging police misconduct, he’s been promoted twice. In 2016, he was elevated from officer to detective and, a year later, to sergeant. 

    The New York Police Department’s officer profile database, meanwhile, lists no applicable entries for disciplinary history in Grieco’s profile. 

    The NYPD launched the portal in 2021 after a federal appeals court issued a ruling allowing city officials to release police discipline records. The department has since touted the new page as a move toward transparency, said Jennvine Wong, staff attorney with the Cop Accountability Project at the Legal Aid Society, a public defense organization in New York City. Wong said the department’s limitations on what counts as misconduct — reflected in an analysis of lawsuit settlement data provided to The Intercept by the Legal Aid Society — undermines any of those stated transparency goals. 

    “If you look up a lot of these officers, especially the ones who are most sued, you’re not going to see that they necessarily have a lengthy misconduct history or disciplinary history,” Wong said. “That’s because the NYPD defines misconduct very narrowly. And in that sense, I think what we’re looking at is really problematic because it allows these kinds of officers to continue to act with impunity.”

    Meanwhile, the city is consistently paying out millions in misconduct settlements designed to avoid findings of guilt, which, therefore, never appear on the NYPD profiles database. 

    Of the 10 NYPD officers named in the most lawsuits — facing a collective 245 suits in the last decade, with total payouts of more than $7 million — only one is listed for misconduct in the police profile database.


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