Adrian Schoolcraft, the cop who exposed a system of ticket quotas, false arrests, and downplaying crimes to juke statistics at Bedford-Stuyvesant's 81st Precinct, has settled his lawsuit against the city over his false commitment in the psych ward at Jamaica Hospital. His arrest and commitment were overseen by police supervisors in apparent retaliation for his whistleblowing. Schoolcraft accepted a $600,000 settlement from the city as the case neared trial.
To recap, Schoolcraft pierced the secrecy surrounding his commanding officers' numbers-driven misconduct by secretly recording hundreds of hours of orders and chit-chat in and around the Bed-Stuy station house. What he revealed included orders to refuse to take robbery complaints unless the victim came to the station house, orders to clear certain street corners of people by arresting everyone in sight on bogus charges, and threats for failing to meet specific ticket and stop-and-frisk target numbers. He provided the tapes to the Village Voice. The recordings led to internal charges against some of the police responsible.
They also seem to have led to Schoolcraft's arrest, six-day involuntary commitment, and suspension from the force without pay on Halloween of 2009. The Voice recounted that evening, based on hospital records and recordings Schoolcraft made on his backup recorder, the one the cops bullying him were not able to find.
A number of police supervisors entered the apartment with a key they obtained from the landlord. They had told the landlord that Schoolcraft was suicidal.
"Once they came in and saw I wasn't in danger, they should have left," he says. "I was fine, and we could deal with the sick report later. But they start going through my shit. I'm thinking, 'What the fuck is going on?' "
About a dozen NYPD supervisors piled into his small apartment. He was lying on his bed, wearing shorts and a T-shirt. He noticed someone with a video camera.
On the audio recording that Schoolcraft made, Deputy Chief Michael Marino and precinct commander Mauriello accuse him of "just walking out of the precinct" and demand that he return.
Lauterborn says, "Get your stuff on. We're going back to the precinct."
Schoolcraft argues that his early departure was approved. Initially, he agrees to return, but then, after speaking to his father, changes his mind and tells the police he feels ill.
A paramedic arrives and asks him what's wrong. "I was just having stomach pains," Schoolcraft says. "They're embellishing this."
As the paramedics start to check his blood pressure, Marino is heard haranguing Schoolcraft: "Listen to me, I'm a chief in the New York City Police Department. So this is what's going to happen, my friend. You've disobeyed an order. And the way you're acting is not right."
"Chief, if you were woken up in your house . . ." Schoolcraft replies.
"Stop right there!" Marino says.
". . . how would you behave?" Schoolcraft asks.
"Stop right there, son. I'm doin' the talkin' right now. Not you," Marino thunders.
"In my apartment," Schoolcraft says. "What is this, Russia?"
"You are going to be suspended," Marino says.
The paramedic says that Schoolcraft's blood pressure is very high. He agrees to go to a hospital, thinking they would take him to his hospital in Forest Hills, Queens. He walks downstairs with the paramedics, but then he's told he's being taken to Jamaica Hospital.
"I was willing to go to Forest Hills, but not Jamaica," he says. "I turned around and said 'I'm RMA,' and I went back and lay on the bed."
In police parlance, "RMA" means "refusing medical attention," the right of any citizen. When Lauterborn tells Schoolcraft he's in trouble, he replies, "If I did something wrong, write me up."
It was then that Chief Marino lost his temper, according to the tape. "Listen to me, they are going to treat you like an EDP [emotionally disturbed person]," he says. "Now, you have a choice. You get up like a man and put your shoes on and walk into that bus, or they're going to treat you as an EDP and that means handcuffs."
Schoolcraft tells the chief that he is the one pushing the confrontation.
Marino then orders Schoolcraft placed in handcuffs. "All right, just take him," he says. "I can't fucking stand him anymore."
At that point, various officers grab him.
"So they pulled me off the bed, stomping on me," Schoolcraft says. "They had me all twisted up, hands all over me. Someone grabbed my hair. . . . Marino stepped on my face with his boot. That's when he said it didn't have to be like this. They basically beat the shit out of me."
Cops then lied to hospital workers about the day's events to get Schoolcraft admitted. The city Law Department issued a statement saying the recent settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing. Schoolcraft's suit against Jamaica Hospital is ongoing.