The City Law Department has taken the unusual step of choosing not to defend a 29-year veteran of the NYPD who faces two federal lawsuits alleging police brutality. You may recall the cop, Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, because he was caught on video spraying Occupy Wall Street protesters with pepper spray, seemingly without provocation. Bologna, who was immortalized in a hilarious Daily Show segment, was docked 10 vacation days and reassigned to Staten Island. But he still faces civil lawsuits, and lawyers for the city appear to be hanging him out to dry.
The Captains Endowment Association union is now covering the cost of his legal expenses relating to two lawsuits, one filed in February and another filed last week. His attorney tells the Wall Street Journal, "He wasn't doing this as Anthony Bologna, mister. He was doing this as Anthony Bologna, deputy inspector, NYPD." And Roy Richter, the president of the Captains Endowment Association, says Detective Bologna only agreed to not fight the disciplinary action so that he could move on with his career. "Inspector Bologna was acting within the scope of his employment, and he was doing what he was trained to do," Richter argues.
There are 1,376 federal civil-rights cases pending against the NYPD, and according to the city Law Department, the city has defended officers in 95 percent of the cases over the past five years. What may have made the difference here is that Bologna's seemingly wanton use of pepper spray was caught on video and went viral. As the lawyer for two of the women suing Bologna explains, "If it wasn't on video, I think it would be another he said-she said case."
Of course, over on the cop message board NYPD Rant, this isn't going over so well. "No matter how anyone feels about him personally, this send a scary message to all cops," opines one Ranter. "Especially bosses with time on the job: You're on your own for the most bullshit of capers. ESPECIALLY when it's a 'politically-sensitive' situation. We will make a public example of you in order to enhance our own standing with the political group involved, and their friends and supporters."