(NY DAILY NEWS) – A police officer frustrated with his bosses’ pressure to hit artificial arrest quotas says he reached the breaking point when he was ordered to take responsibility for the controversial high-profile arrest of a Brooklyn man tackled by cops outside his presence.
Terence Dickerson, 30, says in papers filed with the city that his NYPD superiors told him to sign records claiming he arrested Fitzroy Gayle, 20, who says he was brutally beaten by six other cops March 3 in an incident that generated protests and heavy media coverage.
Dickerson, who is black, claims the order was retaliation for filing a complaint that he had been pressured over three years to hit unofficial quotas by supervisors in Public Service Area 7, a South Bronx-based unit that patrols city housing, and in the 69th Precinct in Canarsie, Brooklyn.
He has filed a notice of claim that accuses city of racial discrimination and seeks $5 million in damages.
“The NYPD claims to have switched to community based policing but in practice this is not true,” Dickerson told the Daily News. “As a result, good police officers are forced to target black civilians for the sake of a number. I’m hoping that this lawsuit will help expose that and drive real change.”
Dickerson was shaken and upset at the comment because, as he told his lawyer, he grew up in the South Bronx and he felt like he was himself being called a criminal.
At one point in 2017, a sergeant told him, “If you don’t get an arrest, I will have to get one for you and you’re not going to like what I bring you,” according to the notice of claim.
On April 22, 2017, the sergeant stopped a man and then searched him, finding a knife, the claim said. The sergeant then attempted to assign the arrest to Dickerson.
The notice of claim says that when Dickerson objected on the ground that the sergeant had no legal reason to stop the man in the first place, the sergeant replied: “If you don’t take this arrest, you will be suspended. I know people in IAB [Internal Affairs] and I will hurt your career.”
More punishment posts followed, and his overtime was slashed for refusing to go along with demands for more arrests, Dickerson claims.
That led Dickerson to get into an argument with a lieutenant. After the argument, Dickerson was suspended and sent to a dead-end VIPER unit in Coney Island. On VIPER assignments, cops spend entire shifts watching surveillance video. Officers consider the duty a dead-end job.
Late in the summer of 2019, Dickerson was transferred to the 69th Precinct in Canarsie, where he continued to get bad evaluations.
Then on March 3, a group of cops tackled Gayle as he pleaded his innocence in a caught-on-video arrest outside Glenwood Park in Canarsie. Gayle said the cops punched and kicked him. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said video of the incident had disturbing elements, and that he would have preferred to see “no physical resistance at all and no arrest needed.”
Three hours later, Dickerson, who hadn’t been at the scene, was approached on his meal break and told he had to take responsibilty for Gayle’s arrest.
Dickerson says he objected, but found himself under investigation for an arrest he had nothing to do with. Meanwhile, the Gayle case generated protests and an ongoing criminal investigation.