The department trial of Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins was postponed indefinitely after it began Sept. 8 when one of his lawyers fell seriously ill.
The longtime SBA leader is facing an abuse-of-authority complaint for doxing Mayor de Blasio’s daughter following her May 31, 2020, arrest at a George Floyd protest.
Defense: Mullins Scapegoated
During the opening session of proceedings at a trial room inside NYPD headquarters, one of the union leader’s lawyers, Andrew Quinn, argued that the city’s prosecution amounted to a trampling of Mr. Mullins’s First Amendment rights. Prosecuting the union leader, he said, would compromise his ability to represent his members and have a disquieting effect on labor leaders nationwide.
“This is an attack by the city on his rights as a union leader,” Mr. Quinn said during his opening argument. “We see this case as an attempt to chill Ed Mullins’s free-speech rights.” A successful prosecution would work to stifle “the entire labor movement,” he said.
Mr. Mullins, president of the Sergeants union since 2002, retweeted a tweet by a Daily Mail reporter of Chiara de Blasio’s arrest record that included her address, date of birth, state identification card number and other identifying information.
In his re-tweet, Mr. Mullins appended a critique essentially saying the Mayor was preventing the NYPD from an adequate response to the protests because his daughter was among those taking part.
Called Mayor Conflicted
“How can the NYPD protect the city of NY from rioting anarchists when the Mayor's object throwing daughter is one of them,” he wrote. “Now we know why he is forbidding Mounted Units to be mobilized and keeping the NYPD from doing their jobs.”
The tweet was eventually removed by Twitter because it violated its rules against doxing.
Samuel Yee, the NYPD attorney prosecuting the case, contended that Mr. Mullins’s re-tweet left Ms. de Blasio at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. He also argued that Mr. Mullins’s actions compromised the NYPD’s integrity and the public’s trust in the department, an essential component of its crime-fighting mission.
But Mr. Quinn argued that Mr. Mullins, as head of a union, should and must be free to criticize actions by the city he deems to have a detrimental effect on his members—in this case the NYPD’s response to the protests. By his re-tweet message, Mr. Mullins was challenging the city and the NYPD to better protect his members. Nothing about the tweet, the lawyer said, created operational challenges for the NYPD.
'His Job is to Advocate'
He further argued that it was the NYPD’s responsibility to maintain the privacy of records, and not his client’s. “Ed Mullins’s responsibility...is to advocate for his members,” he said.
Mr. Quinn said that given that Mr. Mullins was not the initial source of information that eventually was made public about Ms. de Blasio, the union leader had an added layer of constitutional protections that is embedded in case law. “Once it’s in the public domain, it’s public,” he said.
Sometime into a 10-minute recess about 90 minutes into the proceedings, Mr. Quinn’s colleague, Anthony Coles, a longtime police- union lawyer, fell ill and paramedics were called. Mr. Quinn said Mr. Coles had “suffered a pretty significant medical episode” but that he was expected to recover.
The NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner Trials, Rosemarie Maldonado, called a halt to proceedings.
Mr. Mullins is also scheduled for department trials on charges, substantiated by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, that he used offensive language against two city officials.
Sexist and Ugly
The first involves his May 2020 reference to then-Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Oxiris Barbot as a "bitch" who “has blood on her hands.” Mr. Mullins described her that way in a tweet following the disclosure of an exchange two months earlier between Dr. Barbot and then-NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan in which she allegedly said she did not give “two rats’ asses about your cops” during an argument about protective equipment.
The board's other substantiated offensive-language charge concerned a tweet by Mr. Mullins in which he called then-City Councilman Richie Torres a “first-class whore” in September 2020.
CCRB Deputy Chief Prosecutor Suzanne O'Hare and CCRB Prosecutor Jonathan Fogel attended the Aug. 8 proceedings.
Each of three charges against Mr. Mullins carries with it a 20-day penalty and, according to the NYPD’s new disciplinary matrix, possible termination.
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