Federal Judge Orders NYPD to Reinstate Officer Fired for Public Statements about Street Crime Unit

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
July 25, 2001 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States


NEW YORK–At the request of the New York Civil Liberties Union, a federal court today ordered the NYPD to reinstate police officer Yvette Walton, who was fired in April 1999 after she spoke publicly about misconduct by the NYPD’s Street Crime Unit.

“”Police officers and other City employees have the right to speak out about misconduct, and this decision makes clear that they will not lose their jobs for exercising that right,”” said NYCLU Senior Staff Attorney Christopher Dunn, who argued the case before U. S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein.

Following a trial last summer at which then-Police Commissioner Howard Safir testified, Judge Hellerstein ruled in November 2000 that the Police Department had fired Officer Walton in retaliation for her statements criticizing the tactics of the Street Crime Unit and thus had violated her First Amendment rights. Notwithstanding this ruling, the City refused to reinstate Walton, and the NYCLU therefore was forced to seek further orders from Judge Hellerstein, resulting in today’s decision.

Officer Walton, who is African-American and briefly served in the Street Crime Unit before transferring out, first made statements about the unit 10 days after four white members of the unit shot and killed unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo in February 1999.

Walton later appeared on ABC’s Nightline to talk about the shooting, and testified at a City Council hearing investigating the Street Crime Unit. Shortly after giving that testimony, Officer Walton was informed of her dismissal.

NYCLU Interim Executive Director Donna Lieberman hailed the decision. “”Once again the federal courts have vindicated important First Amendment rights.””

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Free Speech

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Free Speech

Free Speech issue image

Protecting free speech means protecting a free press, the democratic process, diversity of thought, and so much more. The ACLU has worked since 1920 to ensure that freedom of speech is protected for everyone.