The Mount Vernon Police Department has put a controversial detective on desk duty, following Gothamist/WNYC’s publication of a video showing him conducting a strip search in an apartment in apparent violation of department rules.
“Pending investigation into possible violations of The Mount Vernon Police Department policy, Det. Camilo Antonini has been assigned to desk duty,” said Daniel Terry, a spokesman for the small Westchester County city, noting that the detective will be doing clerical work for the duration of the probe.
Detective Antonini conducted the strip search while executing a search warrant at an apartment on Fourth Avenue in 2017. Police rules say such searches should be done under supervision at a police facility, but footage shows the detective stripping off the underwear of a handcuffed man in his fifties and inspecting his anus while looking for drugs.
The announcement follows months of investigation by Gothamist/WNYC into a trove of secretly recorded phone calls made by a police whistleblower in Mount Vernon, which is one of the few majority-black cities in Westchester.
The calls implicate Antonini and several other narcotics officers in allegations of framing residents, teaming up with favored drug dealers, and assaulting residents in custody and in handcuffs.
Terry, the spokesman, also confirmed that all the officers accused of misconduct in the secret tapes have been removed from controversial plainclothes operations.
“Accountability and transparency is one of this administration’s top priorities,” Terry continued. “We will continue to rid the police department of any bad actors and build bridges of communication and trust within the community.”
Jesse Van Lew, an anti-violence activist with the group Save Mount Vernon, said the temporary changes were a good first step, but argued Antonini and the other officers accused of misconduct need to be fired.
“We want better. [In] no other community, this is going on, only in Mount Vernon. And why? Because we allow it,” he said. “We’re not allowing it no more. We’re going to address this front and center by any means.”
Detective Antonini did not respond to requests for comment.
Earlier this year, Glenn Scott, Mount Vernon’s new police commissioner, dissolved the department’s narcotics unit, following Gothamist/WNYC’s initial stories on misconduct complaints by the whistleblower and civilians. The department currently has several former narcotics officers under active investigation.
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This piece is part of an ongoing series on police corruption allegations in Mount Vernon, New York, and Westchester County. If you have a tip about a prosecutor's office, a law enforcement agency or the courts, email reporter George Joseph at email@example.com. He is also on Facebook, Twitter@georgejoseph94, and Instagram @georgejoseph81. You can also text or call him with tips at 929-486-4865. He is also on the encrypted phone app Signal with the same phone number.