This article was originally published on Apr 19 5:05pm EDT by THE CITY
NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey confirmed to a civilian watchdog agency that he had ordered a Brooklyn precinct sergeant to void the arrest of a retired officer who allegedly menaced three kids with a gun in late 2021, an agency report on the incident reveals.
The report, obtained by THE CITY from the Civilian Complaint Review Board, finds that Maddrey told the precinct sergeant he should have arrested the three youths instead, one of whom struck a security camera belonging to the retired officer with a basketball.
Maddrey’s description contradicts an official police department statement issued shortly after the incident that denied Maddrey had given such an order.
The report on the incident formed the basis for the board’s decision last week finding Maddrey abused his authority in releasing retired officer Kruythoff Forrester, who had worked at Brownsville’s 73rd Precinct when Maddrey was the commanding officer there.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell will make the final determination on whether Maddrey, the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the department, should be sanctioned.
In an unusual move for such a high-ranking police official, Maddrey, who served as chief of community affairs at the time of the incident, showed up at the precinct along with a deputy chief shortly after Forrester’s arrest — and Forrester was released 90 minutes later with his arrest voided, THE CITY previously reported.
The CCRB report found that Maddrey ordered the arresting officer, Sgt. Karl Hanisch, to cancel Forrester’s arrest after “a continued effort by Chief Maddrey to disregard the facts established by Sgt. Hanisch’s investigation for the benefit of [Forrester] and ultimately leading to his release.”
Hanisch told investigators that Maddrey went so far as to spell out “how he wanted the narrative of the voided arrest to be written.”
The document shows Maddrey and Deputy Chief Scott Henderson spent their time at the precinct questioning Hanisch about his decision to arrest Forrester. Maddrey even said the three boys should have been “arrested for criminal misconduct” for throwing a basketball that dislodged a storefront security camera belonging to Forrester’s family, according to Hanisch.
Hanisch said the two chiefs had said Forrester was allowed to carry a firearm as a retired cop and that he should never have been arrested. They also asked Hanisch whether perhaps Forrester had been trying to arrest the three boys for slamming the store’s security camera — which would offer a potential explanation for why Forrester would have drawn his gun. Hanisch told the chiefs Forrester never mentioned trying to arrest the kids, the report says.
In his testimony to the CCRB, Henderson affirmed that the decision to void Forrester’s arrest was made by Maddrey.
Hours before the report’s release, Mayor Eric Adams defended Maddrey’s conduct, touting his top uniformed cop’s decades of service to the community.
Adams insisted he was letting the disciplinary process play out after the CCRB recommended that Maddrey lose up to 10 vacation days for his role in the incident.
“We’re talking about Chief Maddrey. I mean, you walk around this city, you go to every command he has ever been in, you go to everyday people, you look at what he does off duty with the — around Christmas time — with children, you look at the volunteering, you look at the children in boxing, you look at what this person has done and what he has committed himself to, to the city of New York — I’m just so proud to have him as the Chief of the Department,” Adams said at City Hall when asked about CCRB’s substantiation of abuse of authority by Maddrey.
“And I don’t think he would do something that’s inappropriate — but it’s up to the [police] commissioner to do her overview.”
One Incident, Two Accounts
An NYPD spokesperson, Sgt. Edward Riley,previously denied to THE CITY that Maddrey and Henderson had ordered the retired officer freed.
“Two chiefs did not come along and order that this retired officer be released,” Riley said. “They ordered investigators, whose very job is to uncover misconduct, to look further into the incident and found that the facts relayed by the teenagers were contradicted by the retired officer and could not be verified by the video, [Shotspotter] or any other witness. Based on that, the arrest was voided and the retired officer was released.”
In contrast, the CCRB report determined that Hanisch had probable cause to arrest Forrester — the determination cops need to make in order to place someone under arrest. Hanisch noted that the children had each separately provided accurate descriptions of the unusual firearm Forrester carried at the time of his arrest, with a silver and black barrel.
Yet according to the findings, Maddrey concluded the arrest should be voided after he reviewed clips of body-worn camera and building surveillance footage that didn’t show Forrester brandishing a gun. He questioned the credibility of the kids because they didn’t admit to intentionally striking the security camera with their basketball despite video that suggested they had.
The CCRB notes that Maddrey did not explain how the kids, one of whom had fled home and was interviewed separately from the other two by Hanisch, were able to accurately describe what Forrester’s gun looked like.
“Chief Maddrey could not provide any explanation for how the children could each describe [Forrester]’s distinctive firearm so similarly,” the report says.
Maddrey also denied to the CCRB that he had dictated how the report voiding Forrester’s arrest should be written.
The CCRB investigator noted that the voided arrest report makes no mention of a gun, even though the first officers to arrive on the scene that night removed a licensed 9mm gun from a holster on Forrester’s right side.
CCRB officials said the recommended 10-vacation-day penalty was determined by an NYPD disciplinary matrix that sets the presumed range of punishments for certain offenses.
The case is now in the hands of NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who has the power to mete out any level of discipline — including no discipline at all.
Sewell made clear late last year that she has a different perspective than the CCRB about what constitutes misconduct and how severely officers should be punished for certain infractions.
In a December 2022 memo to the department obtained by the New York Post, Sewell said she downgraded or dismissed the disciplinary recommendation of the CCRB in at least 70 instances since Adams tapped her for the role in January 2022.
MK Kaishian, an attorney for the three teens — 15-year-old Kyi-el, his 13-year-old brother, Brendan, and their 15-year-old cousin, Kawun — said the report confirms everything the teens have been saying all along.
“It is clearer than ever that Chief Maddrey and the retired officer both knew what role the Chief would play well before he arrived, and it is incredibly disturbing to hear him call for the arrest of the three children after they had been victimized for seven minutes by a man with a gun,” she told THE CITY. “Anyone who continues to defend the Chief’s conduct in this case while claiming to care about children’s wellbeing and safety is a hypocrite.”
Kaishian filed a lawsuit against Forrester on behalf of the families in November 2022 seeking to hold him accountable for his alleged actions a year prior.
This was after the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau found no wrongdoing by Maddrey and Henderson, and after the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office found no criminality was committed in the incident or its aftermath.
THE CITY has reached out to Maddrey, Henderson and the NYPD for comment. Forrester couldn’t immediately be reached.
THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.
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