2023 Digital Video Storytelling, Medium Form, Small/Medium Newsroom winner

Videos Show NYPD Chiefs Intervened Before Voiding of Ex-Cop’s Gun Arrest

About the Project

In an unprecedented finding of wrongdoing by such a high-ranking police official, the Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated misconduct by Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey over his intervention in a Brooklyn gun incident. And in May, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell chose to throw the maximum penalty at Maddrey, when in the past she has rejected hundreds of disciplinary recommendations.

THE CITY first broke the story in November 2021. That’s when a retired officer chased three youths through the streets of Brownsville, allegedly menacing them with a gun. The officer was arrested, but instead of facing charges, he walked out of the precinct a free man that very night.

Maddrey, then Chief of Community Affairs, rushed to the station, where according to a law enforcement source interviewed by THE CITY, he ordered that the retired cop’s arrest be voided.

A subsequent probe by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau found no misconduct by Maddrey, and an investigation by the Brooklyn district attorney found no criminality. Mayor Eric Adams promoted Maddrey to Chief of Department, the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the NYPD, and public interest in the case waned.

But in March, THE CITY published a video investigation — culled from 36 body-worn cameras and neighborhood and precinct house surveillance cameras — documenting what happened when Maddrey and another high-ranking NYPD official showed up to Brooklyn’s 73rd. After our video was released, the three boys spoke out in an interview with Hot 97 host Ebro Darden; one of them said he didn’t believe he’d make it through the incident alive. Then the kids got their first public demonstration of support when about 100 people marched to a plaza next to City Hall to seek justice. Among the crowd was Public Advocate Jumaane Williams — the first elected official to stand with them.

The CCRB’s action against such a high-ranking officer is rare, but “after carefully reviewing the evidence, the full board deliberated this case and substantiated misconduct against Chief Maddrey,” said interim chair Arva Rice.

Judges Comments

Judges were synchronously blown away by this entry. The work and time put into piecing all the videos together shows great, impactful Journalism. The videos were crucial in both the storytelling and holding a secretive city agency accountable. Judges hope there is more video journalism like this.