For the first time in his eleven months as the city's top cop, James O'Neill has overturned the verdict of an NYPD officer found guilty of misconduct by an administrative judge.

The Daily News reports that the police commissioner unilaterally tossed the judge's decision last month, and the city is not planning on releasing the officer's name, offense, or any other details about the case. The only reason we know the verdict was reversed is because of a single line from a report released last week by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the city agency responsible for reviewing civilian complaints.

"Police Commissioner O'Neil's reversal without public explanation is troubling," Norman Siegel, a civil rights attorney and the former legal director for the NYCLU, told Gothamist. He noted that a memorandum of understanding was supposed to make these types of reversals public, and suggested that the City Council explicitly amend the provision so that the commissioner be "required to publicly explain the reason(s) for the reversal."

"This particular type of decision is very unusual, that they would reverse a trial verdict of guilty," added Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Dunn estimated that such reversals are ordered by a New York City Police Commissioner around every two years, and said the city is often successful in not disclosing any information about the cop in question to the public.

Asked about the reasoning for reversing the police officer's guilty verdict, an NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist that, "after review of the facts of this case, the Police Commissioner determined that the officer's actions were reasonable and necessary under the totality of the circumstances, and set aside the recommendations of the Department's Administrative Judge." The spokesperson would not elaborate on the facts of the case, nor would they provide the name of the officer.

As the Daily News points out, one explanation for this secrecy could be a decades-old provision of the civil rights code, which the NYPD now says prevents them from publicizing outcomes of police disciplinary cases. While the NYPD had for decades provided reporters with that information, they abruptly stopped after outgoing NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton claimed in 2016 that the practice was in violation of a state law. A court recently ruled in favor of Bratton's claim, and the NYPD has continued to keep police discipline cases secret since O'Neill took over last September.

"At a minimum, if that is the reasoning then O'Neil should have publicly stated that," noted Siegel. "Silence and secrecy breeds distrust."

A spokesperson for City Hall did not respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio, Austin Finan, told Gothamist that the details of the reversal could not be made public because of the contentious provision that Bratton cited last year. "Under the transparency reforms we're working to see realized, this information would be made public," he said.

During a press conference Monday, Mayor de Blasio noted that he was not surprised that the reform effort had failed, saying, "These kinds of laws were put in place at the behest of some of the unions and the unions have particular sway with the Republican State Senate — it was not shocking that we couldn’t get it done this time."