NEW YORK – A veteran NYPD detective who has been branded a “monster” and “terrorist” by critics is fighting back. The black police officer says he is a victim of the de Blasio administration’s anti-cop policies, reported the New York Post.
David Terrell filed a $175 million notice of claim against the city Wednesday. In it he claims the city created a “cottage industry” of gang-bangers who collect taxpayer money with bogus complaints of police misconduct.
“You can sue an officer and the city’s going to pay out, whether it’s true or not true,” Terrell told The Post.
“What I say to the mayor is: Stop these people from making these frivolous claims and back the officers when something is 100 percent not true.”
Understandably, Terrell wants his reputation unstained by the actions encouraged by their policies. “I want my name cleared, first and foremost. And I want these people to pay for their lies,” he added.
Terrell says he has been targeted by gang members and others who hire “unethical private investigators and legal counsel to file frivolous civil-rights lawsuits.”
Terrell’s notice of claim alleges violations of his own civil rights and a state law that bars lawyers from engaging in “any deceit or collusion . . . with intent to deceive the court.”
Moreover, he says he has been defamed, pointing to news reports based on “completely false or distorted information” that was spoon-fed to reporters who used it for “click bait” to generate online ad revenues.
Terrell’s legal notice, filed with city Comptroller Scott Stringer, specifically names Sarah Wallace of NBC4/New York and James Ford of PIX11, both of whom have reported on allegations against him.
Meanwhile, a column posted Wednesday on the medium.com website by reporter Shaun King — who credited Wallace and Ford in a related story Tuesday — called Terrell “one of the most brutal men in the history of the department” and said he belonged in prison.
“I’ve heard him called a ‘monster,’ a ‘terrorist,’ ‘evil,’ and have had multiple families tell me he’s ‘the worst human being’ they’ve encountered in their entire lives,” King wrote.
Terrell’s notice also accuses the law firm of Nwokoro & Scola and a fired NYPD cop-turned-private investigator, Manuel Gomez, of peddling “false or distorted information . . . through news stories and/or legal filings.”
Terrell, 44, has racked up more than 1,000 arrests since joining the NYPD in 2002. Furthermore, three years ago he was named a “field intelligence officer” to target gang members in the crime-ridden 42nd Precinct in the Bronx.
Filing false allegations against officers is one of the oldest plays in the gangster playbook. It is a tactic used to coerce supervisors to pull back the reigns on assertive cops.
Terrell was promoted to detective specialist in recognition of his role as lead officer in the 2015 takedown of the Lyman Place Crew, in which 22 reputed gang members — with nicknames like “Sal Capone” and “Mal Pacino” — were charged in a 57-count indictment.
The NYPD “is fully aware this sort of assignment is particularly dangerous and a legal minefield” in which “gang members, their families and members of community that benefit from criminal enterprises routinely disrupt criminal investigations . . . with false allegations of police misconduct,” his notice says.
But under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the department doesn’t call in the state Attorney General’s Office or the feds to help with civil or criminal prosecution, or pursue civil cases through the city Law Department, Terrell complains.
Terrell has been hit with 36 Civilian Complaint Review Board complaints. While it sounds like a cop out of control, nothing could be further from the truth since only two complaints were sustained. And comically, both substantiated complaints were for failing to share his badge number over the phone, he told The Post.
Since 2006, Terrell been named in 15 lawsuits filed in federal and state courts, records show. But even that is not an alarming number to people in the business. The reality is that many “starving attorney’s” file frivolous lawsuits at will.
Two of the cases were tossed out of court, while the city settled three — for $614,500, $55,000 and $25,000, which again is not an uncommon practice for a city. They are not looking at right or wrong, but simply minimizing loss.
One of the 10 pending cases involves allegations that Terrell propositioned a Bronx mom, Elizabeth Rosado, “whenever any of her sons, Angelo Cotto or Antonio Cotto, was arrested.”
During one interaction, Terrell allegedly offered to protect Angelo from any future arrests if she slept with him, court papers claim.
In Terrell’s notice, he alleges that Angelo Cotto, 20, is a member of the Hilltop Gang. Terrell denies claims of assault and false arrest, saying he was on his “regular day off” when Angelo claims the cop busted him.
Another pending suit was filed on behalf of Pedro Hernandez, who claims Terrell pressured 2015 shooting victim Shawn Nardoni to falsely identify Hernandez as the gunman.
Hernandez, 17, gained national attention for refusing to accept a no-jail plea deal in that case, and remained locked up on Rikers Island for a year — until his $250,000 bail was reduced to $100,000 and posted by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization.
Hernandez is also charged in an unrelated knifepoint robbery in November 2015, and prosecutors have said in court that he’s under investigation in a third, undisclosed criminal case.
Terrell, in his notice, alleges that Hernandez is also known as “Big Bank Pablo” and is the leader of Hilltop, which is battling two other gangs — the Wash Side Crew and the B-Road Crew — “to control the crime trade of committing larcenies, assaults, drug and firearm trafficking” in an area south of Crotona Park.
Moreover, Terrell also says he “never interviewed, assisted, arrested and/or participated in the apprehension of Hernandez.”
Other allegations against Terrell are based on cellphone video broadcast last year by NBC4 that shows him shooting dice with a group of men in the Bronx.
Kenny Shenery told the TV station that the video was shot after Terrell and his partner tossed him into the back of a patrol car, with Terrell telling the other men: “Let’s gamble. If I win, I take one of you guys in, also with him, and if I lose, I let him go.”
Terrell told The Post that Shenery got busted on an outstanding warrant and that the offer to possibly release him was clearly a joke. Nevertheless, they now want to misrepresent what actually occurred.
“I saw the guy recording it and I said, ‘I’m glad you’re recording because this is community policing.’ They never show that part,” he said. “The dice game was basically me showing them ‘I’m one of you guys.’ ”
Terrell’s lawyer, Eric Sanders, said the detective’s “proactive civil litigation is intended to stem the tide of fraudulent litigation against honest police officers.”
The head of the detectives union is backing Terrell, calling him “an active cop committed to protecting the community he serves in the 42nd Precinct from gang crime and violence.”
I want my name cleared, first and foremost. And I want these people to pay for their lies.
– NYPD Detective David Terrell
“The thugs in the neighborhood would like nothing better than to operate free from any police interference,” said Michael Palladino, head of the Detectives’ Endowment Association.
“Since intimidation doesn’t work on the detectives, [suspects] resort to filing complaints and lawsuits in an effort to keep the police at bay.”
The NBC4 report revealed that Terrell had been stripped of his badge and gun and assigned to a Manhattan courthouse, but the NYPD said the disciplinary action was tied to an earlier, off-duty domestic dispute in which Terrell was involved.
Wallace and Ford both said their work speaks for itself.
King said he tried in vain to interview Terrell by calling the 42nd Precinct and NYPD Headquarters, but “got next to nothing in response.”
Gomez said he could prove all his allegations against Terrell, adding, “No matter what they say, I have them. I already have all the witnesses, all the evidence.”
Nwokoro & Scola didn’t return calls seeking comment from the New York Post.
Mayoral press secretary Eric Phillips challenged Terrell’s allegations.
“This administration has improved the city’s fact-finding process, filed more motions to dismiss cases, and added resources and personnel to reduce settlements and challenge more frivolous allegations.”
(Photo: Screenshot NBC 4 news)