NYPD Clears Inspector of Excessive Force Use in George Floyd Protest; 2 Other Cops Guilty

Police in riot gear gather during a protest in Brooklyn on May 30, 2020, over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (Daily News/TNS) — A New York Police Department inspector accused of roughing up a George Floyd protester in Brooklyn two years ago was cleared of all departmental charges — but two other officers were found guilty of using excessive force, according to NYPD records.

Inspector Jesse Lance testified at his March trial at 1 Police Plaza that Kedwin Payamps and other bicyclists played the role of “obstructionists,” blocking police from doing their job during the June 4, 2020 demonstration in Clinton Hill, at which protesters threw bottles at officers.

Lance said his two baton strikes to Payamps’ backpack was the least amount of force possible — not the excessive force he was accused of by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which substantiated Payamps’ allegation and prosecuted the case.

Video showed Payamps looking back at Lance on Washington Ave. near Fulton St. as Lance approached to enforce the 8 p.m. curfew and make an arrest.

Payamps testified he was pedaling his bike past the protest when Lance confronted him. Soon after that, he said, a group of cops rushed him and arrested him for violating the curfew. The charge was dismissed about a month later.

Lance, who was also accused of making misleading statements to the CCRB when he was first interviewed, said he couldn’t identify himself in the video. He also said his memory was jogged by reading 1,700 pages of documents about the protest — and by watching the video in question at least 100 times.

“But today you remembered?” asked the CCRB prosecutor, Nicole Jardim.

“I’m telling you as I see it today,” Lance responded. “Yes, I’m able to deduce and know that happened.”

The CCRB called for Lance to lose 30 days vacation pay and be placed on dismissal probation. But that argument didn’t sway NYPD Judge Jeff Adler, who recommended the 24-year veteran be found not guilty.

On June 16 then-NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell approved Adler’s recommendation. The findings were disclosed in a quarterly report released by the CCRB on Aug. 21.

Lawyer Lou La Pietra said the charges were “exaggerated” and that Sewell made the right decision in finding Lance not guilty.

“It was based on common sense and the proper application of Police Department rules and law,” La Pietra said. “Inspector Lance did nothing wrong and he was rightfully found not guilty.”

Payamps, 31, has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD. He and his lawyer refused comment.

It was the second time Lance, assigned to a housing command in Brooklyn, was acquitted at a department trial. In 2019, he was tried and cleared in a case that grew from an accusation that he barged into a Brooklyn apartment and accosted a family following a shooting outside their building, according to NYPD records.

Detective Corey Johnson, another police officer who worked the George Floyd protest in Clinton Hill, was found guilty of using force against journalist Nick Pinto, who was then with WNYC Radio.

Johnson, who at the time of the protest held the rank of police officer, testified that he was trying to clear the street of protesters when he was caught on camera shoving Pinto, who fell to the ground. He said while he understood those who felt he shoved the journalist, “there was no ill intent to hurt Mr. Pinto.”

“I was trying to clear that block, that sidewalk,” Johnson testified. Pinto was not hurt.

The CCRB wanted Johnson to be docked 25 vacation days. But Adler, the departmental judge, recommended three days for the force allegation. Sewell increased the penalty to five days.

Johnson, who joined the NYPD in 2015, was promoted to detective in June and is assigned to the 77th Precinct. He did not respond to a request for comment and his lawyer had no comment.

In an incident involving another George Floyd protest in Manhattan’s Union Square on May 30, 2020, Officer Brian Mahon was accused of excessive force, discourtesy and making a false statement to the CCRB.

Mahon settled his case, accepting 40 days lost pay and a year’s dismissal probation.

Mahon was accused of shoving a protester with both hands on his baton, then twice hitting the protester with it.

Records show Mahon told the CCRB he swung his baton at a low angle, a tactic designed to clear out a crowd, and that he didn’t hit the protester — but cellphone footage contradicted his contention.

Mahon made headlines in 2019 as one of the officers involved in the Bronx friendly fire shooting death of Officer Brian Mulkeen in the Bronx.

Armed ex-con Antonio Williams was shot dead by Mulkeen during a life-and-death wrestling match. Five other cops fired 10 shots, with Mahon firing once.

An investigation by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office released in 2021 found the officers’ use of their weapons was legally justified. The investigation did not state which officers’ shots killed Mulkeen.

Mulkeen’s father is now suing the NYPD, alleging his son’s colleagues were not properly trained. Williams’ family has also sued the city.

Mahon, who joined the NYPD in 2013 and is assigned to a Manhattan narcotics command, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer had no comment.

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