Former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and his management team destroyed five years' worth of emails and text messages relating to the NYPD's illegal quota system, according to recent filings in a federal class action lawsuit against the city.
In a letter to Federal Judge Robert Sweet, plaintiffs' attorney Elinor Sutton says that the fact that the City could find zero records of communication from Kelly or four of his top subordinates with the words "summonses, "summons," or "summary" in them shows a "stunning pattern of spoliation" on the part of the NYPD.
"It is simply not tenable that Commissioner Kelly and Chief Esposito did not—in the entire period of 2007 through the present—write or receive emails using terms such as summ," Sutton writes.
Kelly, who currently advises commercial real estate clients on how to protect their property from crime and terrorism, recently told FOX News that the city isn't the same since he left his post: "Now, people are somewhat uneasy. They’re coming to me and talking about it."
Esposito, who is now the head of the City's Office of Emergency Management, testified at the federal stop and frisk trial in 2013 that he and Commissioner Kelly never once had a conversation about racial profiling.
Sutton's court filings were first reported by the Daily News.
A recent report [PDF] from John Jay College showed that 65% of all summonses issued by the NYPD from 2003 through 2013 were either dismissed (41%) or found to be defective or legally insufficient (24%).
The class action lawsuit includes anyone who was issued a criminal summons from May of 2007 to the present that was dismissed. The plaintiffs asked the City to turn over all emails with the phrase "summ" from the NYPD's "decision makers."
While Kelly, Esposito, former Chief of Patrol Robert Giannelli, and former Chiefs of Transit James Tuller and Raymond Diaz supposedly had zero emails with the phrase "summ" in them, the City turned over 557 from former Chief of Department Philip Banks and 937 from former Housing Bureau Chief Joanne Jaffe.
It appears that precinct-level commanders also engaged in destroying records; the plaintiffs point to emails from Captain Andrew Benjamin and text messages from Lieutenant Stevelle Brown obtained by third-parties showing how they pressured their subordinates to write more criminal "quality-of-life" summonses using illegal quotas.
Qiana Smith-Williams, an attorney for the City, wrote a reply to the judge claiming that Emanuel's filings are "short on meritorious claims" and cites it as "a prime example of wasteful litigation."
The federal case, Stinson v. City of New York, is expected to go to trial in early 2016. If the plaintiffs prevail, the NYPD would be forced to dismantle its method for giving summonses (the suit is different from one being filed by NYPD whistleblower Craig Matthews).
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has said that he opposes any meaningful City Council oversight of the department's enforcement activity, but noted that he might be willing to dial back the enforcement of minor crimes like open container or being in a park after dark. The NYPD has written 47,000 fewer summonses in the first half of 2015 than it did over the same period in 2014, and overall crime continues to drop. Shootings and gun deaths have risen, an increase Mayor de Blasio chalks up to "a relatively small set of gangs and crews."
You can read Sutton's letter to Judge Sweet below.