The two NYPD plainclothes detectives who shot and killed Kimani Gray in Brooklyn on March 9 have a documented history of lawsuits related to the use of extrajudicial violence and other civil rights abuses, according to reports by several news outlets.
The two officers, finally identified as Sergeant Mourad Mourad and Officer Jovaniel Cordova, had been named as defendants in a total of five lawsuits prior to the March 9 slaying of Kimani Gray.
The information raises specific questions about why the officers were able to continue serving in high-stress roles as plainclothes New York City police detectives, and more general questions about the capacity of police oversight agencies nationwide to hold the police accountable.
Attorney Brett Klein, who filed four of the five lawsuits, told the New York Daily News that “our clients’ interactions with Sergeant Mourad and Officer Cordova expose a disturbing pattern of unconstitutional and aggressive stop-and-frisk practices.”
Perhaps even more disturbing in light of the officers’ now disputed claims that Kimani Gray brandished a firearm is that “in each case,” according to Klein, “Mourad and Cordova attempted to cover up their misconduct by falsifying and fabricating evidence.”
Given the reticence of state and police institutions nationwide to prosecute police officers for criminal misconduct in criminal court, brave victims seeking redress for injustices are typically turned into litigants in civil court.
With a few notable exceptions, it is normally the only way that victims or surviving family members can publicly document police abuses and bring perpetrators of crimes who are also police officers to public account for their actions.
The city settled the five cases against officers Mourad and Cordova, resulting in no admission of wrongdoing by the city. The suits do not appear to have lead to disciplinary action. (It might in fact be interesting to see how their promotions have been affected by or even coincided with these lawsuits).
Rather than analyzing the lawsuits as a vital document trail informing the public about a greater pattern of abuse, one that is more than likely representative of myriad abuses that went unreported, it appears that it was “business as usual” for the detectives… right up until March 9.