NYPD Officer Files Federal Lawsuit Alleging Mistreatment After He Complained About Racial Disparities

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A black New York City police sergeant—who has 20 years of service, including 10 years working in the Police Department’s Risk Management Bureau—has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the department, alleging that he has been treated like a “rookie cop” ever since he pointed out racial disparities in the way in which evaluations were given to his fellow officers.


Sgt. Cyress Smith, 50, told the New York Daily News that he noticed there seemed to be two sets of rules—one for white officers and one for minority officers. When he noticed white officers being given superior evaluations and promotions over minority officers, he complained. That’s when, he says, the department turned on him and began transferring him into a series of low-level jobs usually reserved for rookie cops or those under investigation within the department.

Smith was first transferred to mail duty, and then—against his doctor’s advice—he was transferred to commands that had unhealthy working conditions for someone with 9/11-related asthma, which Smith suffers from.


The final straw, he says, came last month when Smith was transferred to the Viper Unit, which is tasked with monitoring the surveillance cameras at housing projects.

Smith told the Daily News that he considers the transfer to be a slap in the face. The Viper Unit is usually staffed by officers who are under investigation. He said that he cannot in good conscience recommend the NYPD as a career.

“It’s a story of racism, inequality and abuse,” Smith said. “My daughter recently showed interest in the Police Department, and I’m saying, ‘No way—as your father, I’d like you to pursue other options.’ If they are treating me badly, what stories do I have to tell my daughter?”

The NYPD declined to answer the Daily News’ questions about the transfers, and would not comment on the federal lawsuit Smith has filed.


Smith told the Daily News that he believes the lawsuit will be the end of his 20-year career with the department because win or lose, he will be considered a pariah.

He said that he believes the transfers are calculated and have a motive behind them.


“They’re trying to force me to retire,” Smith said. “But I’m going to retire on my own terms.”

Read more at the New York Daily News.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.


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