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Detective Named in Slew of Lawsuits Claims Race Discrimination by NYPD

By Kate Pastor | October 6, 2017 5:58pm | Updated on October 9, 2017 7:32am
 Det. David Terrell has been accused of excessive force and civil rights violations in 11 active lawsuits.
Det. David Terrell has been accused of excessive force and civil rights violations in 11 active lawsuits.
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Courtesy of John Scola

THE BRONX — A South Bronx detective at the center of a slew of lawsuits alleging false arrests, manufacturing evidence, threats violence and sexually harassment of women claimed in a federal civil-rights complaint that he was passed over for a promotion because he's black.

Det. David Terrell, an 18-year veteran of the NYPD, charged that despite the fact that he made more than 1,000 arrests, he watched his white colleagues advance after a controversial gang takedown while he floundered as a lower-grade detective specialist.

"He’s not promoted to second grade because he’s black," the detective's lawyer, Eric Sanders, said.

Terrell participated in what he called the "largest long-term investigation in the history of the South Bronx," which resulted in arrests of street gang members from the Lyman Place Crew.

After the arrests, he claimed that members of various gangs began filing false corruption allegations against him and other white members of the 42nd Precinct, including his partner, Det. Daniel Brady.

But while top brass, including Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill, protected his white colleagues, Terrell was sent to work at Manhattan Central booking, the complaint says.  

Terrell says that on Sep. 5, the Civilian Complaint Review Board cleared him of allegations of misconduct filed by Angelo Cotto and his mother, Elizabeth Rosado, but that the commissioner still did not restore him to full duty status, promote him or transfer him to the Detective Bureau as he did for the other detectives named in lawsuits.

“We don’t know why he’s modified. The police department hasn’t made it clear yet,” said Sanders, who acknowledged that it may have stemmed from a domestic dispute between Terrell and his wife.

Cotto's lawsuit, which is still pending, alleges that Terrell targeted him for arrest after the detective's sexual advances toward his mother were rebuffed. 

Cotto's suit says that he was falsely arrested several times starting when he was 13, with many of the arrests coming after his mother declined Terrell's overtures. It also claims that Cotto was physically abused by the detective at the 42nd Precinct stationhouse.

Terrell has been named as the defendant in more than a handful of complaints going back more than 10 years for using excessive force and other civil-rights violations.

He filed a notice of claim against the city in August saying that he was the victim of a conspiracy between unscrupulous lawyers and dangerous street gangs geared toward quick payouts.

He was most notably involved in the case against Pedro Hernandez, the teenager accused of supplying a gun involved in a shooting, which was dismissed by the Bronx District Attorney's Office on Sep. 6.  

Hernandez, whose case became a cause célèbre for many justice-system reformers, had been held on $250,000 bail but was released prior to the dismissal of his case after the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization stepped in to pay a reduced bail of $100,000. Hernandez still faces a robbery charge. 

The city's Law Department and the NYPD both declined to comment on Terrell's complaint.