A New York Police officer who was placed on desk duty after violently arresting a bystander has cost the city more than $200,000 in misconduct settlements.
Officer Francisco Garcia has been at the center of at least seven lawsuits since he joined the NYPD eight years ago, according to data from CAPstat. The nonprofit Legal Aid Society launched CAPstat in March to track how much taxpayer money is being spent to settle police misconduct lawsuits.
Garcia went viral this week after he was filmed beating up Donni Wright, a bystander who was observing an arrest in Manhattan’s East Village on May 2.
The lawsuits listed under Garcia’s name included a slew of accusations including racial profiling, using slurs and assault. The largest payout was Hector Hernandez, who received $120,000 in 2018. Hernandez was reportedly racially profiled, assaulted and wrongfully arrested by Garcia and another officer, per The New York Post.
In 2015, the city had to give Marcus Bussey $27,500 for a wrongful arrest. A year before, Bussey was visiting his girlfriend in a Washington Heights housing project when he encountered Garcia, who threw him to the ground. Once Bussey was down, Garcia “began assaulting him with fists, shod feet and foreign objects, attacking his legs, knees, thighs, back, ribs and head.”
A third incident occurred the same year as Bussey’s arrest, according to The New York Daily News. Home aide Mutawakilu Tanko was exiting the Manhattanville Houses after a session with a patient when he was stopped by Garcia and other NYPD officers. Tanko explained why he was there and produced his identification and home care license to validate his presence. After talking to Tanko, they went to his client’s apartment to verify his story. However, they ended up at the wrong apartment because Tanko, an African immigrant, has a thick accent.
Jeffrey Rizzo, his lawyer, called Tanko’s case “one of the worse cases I’ve ever seen, as far as false arrest.”
“They tried to play it off as a misunderstanding,” Rizzo told The New York Daily News. “But they should have realized he wasn’t in the building to buy drugs. The guy was clearly coming from work and they didn’t want to hear it.”
Garcia is currently on modified desk duty while the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau investigates the May 2 incident. On Monday, The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced charges against White and two other people would be deferred.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea admitted he was concerned about Garcia’s behavior on Monday.
“Certainly some tactics that I was not happy with and that was really part of the decision behind the decision to modify that night. Let’s slow it down, let’s get all the facts,” Shea said during an interview with NY1.
Mayor Bill de Blasio posted a statement about the video on Twitter.
“Saw the video from the Lower East Side and was really disturbed by it,” he wrote. “The officer involved has been placed on modified duty and an investigation has begun. The behavior I saw in that video is simply not acceptable.”