New York, NY — In 2015, video surfaced of New York City police lieutenant Paul Gaglio assaulting an 11-year-old girl on a Bronx street corner. The incident happened six months after Eric Garner’s death and showed the cop using an illegal choke hold, proved he lied under oath, and yet he still has his job. His employment also comes in spite of the fact that he frequently posts anti-Muslim and anti-black content on social media.
Not only was this cop not fired for lying under oath, attacking an innocent 11-year-old girl, and posting racist comments on social media—but he was never even disciplined—and the department justified his brutal actions.
Alluding to the fact that they knew what they were doing was wrong, the NYPD attempted to cover up the investigation they claimed they carried out.
As Buzzfeed News reports:
Confidential department documents and court records reviewed by BuzzFeed News show that in August 2016, the NYPD secretly declined to punish the lieutenant, determining that he had not used excessive force. Then-commissioner Bill Bratton went the extra step of shutting down an internal examination of the officer’s actions, sparing Gaglio from standing trial in front of the department’s in-house tribunal.
Today, Gaglio patrols Yankee Stadium, earning $163,000 last year. On Facebook, he has shared anti-gay memes, images denigrating Islam, and posts demeaning black people. (The posts were deleted after BuzzFeed News inquired about them.)
While speaking about his actions that day, Gaglio stated under oath that the girl, wrongly accused of trying to steal a cellphone, tried to resist arrest through “intimidation, physical force, or interference,” and that the two of them had slipped on a patch of ice. However, video footage proved that Gaglio lied and he was the aggressor.
In the video, the large male cop forced the girl against the wall, then grabs her around the neck and throws her to the pavement, where he handcuffs her before leading her away.
In a sworn statement, the police lieutenant lied about what happened, saying she “and I both slipped and fell to the ground. On the ground [she] continued to flail her arms and thrash her body, preventing me from placing handcuffs on her. We continued to struggle until I was eventually able to place handcuffs on [her].”
As we can see in the video below, no one slipped to the ground, and the girl was not flailing and thrashing. It is pure brutality. The assault was just another example of NYPD harassment in minority communities, perhaps motivated by racism, all too similar to the circumstances leading to Eric Garner’s death.
According to civil rights lawyer Bob Herbst, who represents the family, the girl was simply an innocent bystander to a situation that could have been resolved peacefully.
“This past February, after school was out for the day, some boys from the school were throwing snowballs at a passing car. When the driver got out to yell at them — and put one of the boys in a headlock — his smartphone fell out of his pocket and another boy picked it up. Upon realizing his phone was gone, the driver chased down one of the boys and threatened to call the police if the phone was not returned, and when it was not forthcoming, he did, apparently using someone else’s phone.
This 6th grader — let’s call her Angie — and a classmate were walking from school to the bus stop when they saw some of this. They were bystanders who had nothing to do with either the snowballs or the phone. But as the police arrived, the girls exchanged words as to whether they should stay to watch, or go, and then took off running for a block before stopping.
The driver — the man in the white jacket with the knapsack in the video — seeing Angie running, suspected — wrongly — that she was part of the group and had his phone. He approached Angie and asked for his phone. She told him she didn’t have his phone.
Shortly thereafter, as the video starts, this police lieutenant crossed the street, motioning for Angie to come toward him, which she did.”
It seems that running away was enough for the enraged cop to brutalize the girl instead of peacefully ascertaining that she did not have the phone.
If this wasn’t enough for the girl’s psyche, the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York (which prosecutes Family Court proceedings) began a juvenile delinquency proceeding against her. This happened one month after the girl’s parents decided to file claims of police assault and battery and the use of excessive force. Since no action was taken against the girl for four months after the arrest, the proceeding raised the suspicion that the Counsel retaliated after the family said they intended to sue.
Fortunately, the video was preserved by the noble shopkeeper who allowed it to be copied onto the mother’s phone, and this is what proved the cop to be a liar. The obvious unprovoked brutality forced the Counsel to dismiss the case six months later, according to Herbst.
The police lieutenant’s gross abuse of power and the city’s shameful attempt at prosecuting the 6th grade victim has put the girl in a state of psychic distress.
“Her parents report that she now talks and cries in her sleep, and sometimes sleep walks. She is scared of and avoids the police. She does not want to think about or talk about what happened to her. She stays home more, does not like to go outside, and her relationships with friends have changed as she has become more withdrawn.”