The NYPD will not block the city’s police watchdog agency from proceeding with a disciplinary case against an off-duty officer who fatally shot an unarmed man in Brooklyn in 2016, despite objections from the city’s largest police union, the agency said Friday.
In a letter sent to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said her department would not keep the agency from holding an administrative trial for Officer Wayne Isaacs, who was found not guilty in the shooting death of 37-year-old Delrawn Small, the agency confirmed
Sewell, as commissioner, could have retained the disciplinary case against Isaacs, barring the CCRB from proceeding with a trial, a CCRB spokesperson said.
The CCRB, which opened an investigation into Small’s death in March 2019, “is committed to moving forward with this case,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“Our investigation found that Officer Isaacs committed misconduct when he fatally shot Delrawn Small, and we are confident that our [Administrative Prosecution Unit] prosecutors will successfully prove this in court,” the spokesperson added.
Isaacs was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter after he fatally shot Small in East New York during a road rage incident on July 4, 2016.
The officer testified that he fired his gun in self defense after Small punched him in the face, and a Brooklyn jury acquitted him on all counts in November 2017. Surveillance footage, however, showed Small getting shot seconds after he approached the off-duty officer’s vehicle.
The NYPD initially kept Isaacs on non-enforcement duty status after his trial, but he returned to active duty after the department conducted an internal investigation that cleared him.
Sewell’s decision — which was first reported by Politico — drew the ire of Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch, whose union represents thousands of active and retired NYPD officers.
“CCRB has nothing new to add to this case, which has already been fully investigated and adjudicated by the NYPD. The police officer was also acquitted by a Brooklyn jury,” Lynch said in a statement provided to NY1.
“CCRB is simply looking for a third bite at the apple in order to justify their bloated budget and advance their anti-cop agenda,” he added.
An officer who is found guilty at an administrative trial can be penalized with “a warning and admonishment, loss of vacation days, suspension without pay, dismissal probation, or termination from the NYPD,” according to the CCRB’s website.
The NYPD commissioner, however, still has the power to determine whether the officer is disciplined and what penalty they receive, the website notes.
Asked about the case at a press conference on Friday, Mayor Eric Adams threw his support behind Sewell’s decision.
“We have a CCRB for a reason. We thought that at this time, that case specifically, should have found a full resolution within the CCRB. The police commissioner made that determination. I support her,” he said.
“And I commend her for using her authority to state if it should stay in CCRB or come into the police department,” he added. “And she made that decision. I support that.”