After video surfaced of the arrest of Nikki Stone, a transgender woman at a protest Tuesday night - an incident later explained by the NYPD to be the Warrant Squad utilizing an unmarked car - Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams demanded answers and accountability from the NYPD Commissioner.
In a letter, the Public Advocate says "The actions the world saw yesterday demonstrate a clear need to change how we police protestors engaging in their rights to assemble and gather," and requested information on several aspects of the arrest, including how these aggressive tactics were selected relative to the nature of the allegations against Ms. Stone and whether they are often used in relation to similar allegations. He also probed the protocols in place for arrests by the Warrant Squad, including whether and when Miranda rights are read.
The full letter is below.
Dear Commissioner Shea:
I write with grave concern regarding the New York Police Department Warrant Squad's arrest of a transgender woman on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The actions the world saw yesterday demonstrate a clear need to change how we police protestors engaging in their rights to assemble and gather.
This morning, the Mayor said this was not only a matter of "wrong place, wrong time," but an action that makes it difficult to build trust between police and our communities. To that end, I request your response to the following questions on the tactics deployed by the NYPD yesterday:
- Have previous cases for alleged damage of property ever led to similar tactics by the NYPD we saw in the videos yesterday? If so, how frequently are those tactics used in those instances?
- How did the New York Police Department determine the tactics used in the viral video to force a transgender woman in an unmarked car?
- At what point of any arrest in an unmarked van by Warrant Squad are Miranda rights read?
- What other criminal charges have ever led to plainclothes officers forcibly removing protestors if any?
- Was an arrest warrant, signed by a judge, issued to make this or any arrest on July 28?
- What protocols must be followed by the Warrant Squad when serving someone a warrant?
I hope you will understand the urgency of this request, and I look forward to receiving your response on this matter. Please contact First Deputy Public Advocate Nick E. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Thank you.
Jumaane D. Williams
Public Advocate for the City of New York