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Monday, April 16, 2012

3 Elite Police Units Accused of Treating Suspects Like "Animals'

Three in elite NYPD anti-gun unit accused of treating black suspects like 'animals'
The New York Daily News by John Marzulli - April 16, 2012
Explosive charges in federal discrimination lawsuit

Top supervisors of an elite NYPD anti-gun unit allegedly handled white suspects with kid gloves while treating blacks like “animals” deserving of a bullet to the head, the Daily News has learned. The explosive charges appear in sworn depositions from three members of the firearms suppression unit: two current NYPD detectives and a retired first-grade detective. Their testimony, part of a federal discrimination lawsuit, details how Capt. James Coan and Lt. Daniel Davin created a hostile environment for both their black detectives and suspected minority-group gun traffickers, said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Eric Sanders. Davin used the N-word to address black suspects, while Coan considered the unit’s minority-group targets almost subhuman, the depositions indicate. “Capt. Coan would tell the field team . . . ‘They are f-----g animals. You make sure if you have to shoot, you shoot them in the head. That way there’s one story,’ ” said the retired detective. The ex-cop, identified only as Undercover 7988, said Coan’s racist rant came before every search warrant executed in Brooklyn’s Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York from 2008 to 2010. “They didn’t care if it was kids in there, they didn’t care if it was women in there, naked women,” the detective said. “. . . They treated them as if they had no rights whatsoever. It was disgusting." In contrast, search warrants on predominantly white Staten Island were handled without kicking in doors, said the undercover. The two detectives still on the job testified that Davin hurled the N-word at suspects — and at one of them. “On a search warrant which I was present with him and several members of the team, while working in firearms, he called one of the perpetrators a n----r,” said Detective Al Hawkins. On another occasion in 2005, Hawkins recalled, he walked into an apartment where Davin was instructing white officers, “If you have to shoot a n----r, do what you gotta do.” “I just walked out of the room and shook my head,” Hawkins said. The accused captain and lieutenant remain on the job, although in different positions. The detectives testified last month in a discrimination lawsuit brought by Detective Debra Lawson in Brooklyn Federal Court. She alleges minority-group members in the unit were passed over for good assignments and career advancement. The unidentified undercover, before his retirement, had also filed a discrimination complaint against Davin. The lieutenant was “reinstructed” about his offensive comments in 2010, according to court papers. Detective Gregory Jean-Baptiste, who was demoted from second-grade to third-grade detective after clashing with Davin, testified that the lieutenant called him a “black bastard.” In his deposition, Coan “absolutely” denied making the racist remarks. He acknowledged involvement in five shootings over the past 20 years — with two people left dead. While in narcotics, Coan also shot and killed a pit bull. “He didn’t sue me,” the captain testified. In his deposition, the retired detective also said Coan assigned on-duty detectives to work on his personal boat, the Celtic King, moored in Suffolk County. The roll call would reflect the detectives were on “commanding officer assignment,” the ex-cop said. Coan said in his deposition that the Internal Affairs Bureau cleared him of the boat allegations last year. The NYPD and Davin did not respond to requests for comment, while the head of the Captains Endowment Association defended Coan. “That language was never utilized and discredits the bravery of this elite unit who routinely enter locations known to be occupied by known felons,” said union head Roy Richter.

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