NY: Officer Adds Charges to Lawsuit Against City


When an Egyptian-born correction officer working in an elite antiterrorism unit of the New York Police Department sued the city in 2006, he said that although members of the unit had been subjected to hundreds of virulent anti-Arab and anti-Muslim e-mail messages by a city contractor, the police had done too little to stop the slurs.

Now, with that lawsuit wending its way through a federal court in Manhattan, the officer has added new charges. Identified in court papers only as “John Doe Anti-Terrorism Officer,” he maintains in amendments to the original suit that the police have retaliated, removing him from his sensitive and highly skilled undercover assignment and transferring him “back to a dead-end position” with the Department of Correction.

The amendments also name two senior police officials — David Cohen, the deputy commissioner for intelligence, and Inspector Matthew V. Pontillo — as defendants. The suit maintains that Mr. Cohen, a former C.I.A. official, received the same offensive e-mail messages that were sent to members of the antiterrorism unit, and took no action. It says both officials are responsible for the unwanted transfer of the officer who filed suit.

City officials offered little comment on the case on Thursday. Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman, acknowledged that the officer who sued had been transferred out of the antiterrorism unit, but said that the move “was not retaliation.” He declined to comment further.

Connie Pankratz, a spokeswoman for the city’s corporation counsel, said that city lawyers would not comment because the suit was pending in federal court.

In papers submitted on Thursday to Judge Barbara S. Jones of Federal District Court in Manhattan, Ilann M. Maazel, a lawyer for the correction officer, said that “unlawful acts of harassment and retaliation” by the police had resulted in such severe duress and depression that his client had been on sick leave since his transfer to the Department of Correction on Nov. 7.

“There is a culture of retaliation within the N.Y.P.D.,” Mr. Maazel said in an interview. “The plaintiff was performing extremely important work, he was very good at it, and this demotion is a loss to the city.”

 


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