Officer Adrian Schoolcraft’s relatively meager settlement with the NYPD last week leads me to ask: Who is this guy?
Is he a legitimate whistle-blower?
Is his settlement — which in part calls for $600,000 in back pay and an annual $30,000 pension — a cave-in after he promised to air his grievances in a $50 million suit against NYC?
Or is this a step in a separate settlement with Jamaica Hospital, which confined Schoolcraft to its psychiatric ward in 2009 against his will but at NYPD’s direction? A trial on that suit, scheduled to start Oct. 19, may provide answers.
Schoolcraft has claimed his confinement was retaliation for exposing the downgrading of crimes in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct. The NYPD has confirmed precinct commanders altered crime stats and brought departmental charges against or transferred five supervisors. The NYPD also said Schoolcraft was a slacker who left his post without permission on Oct. 31, 2009.
The NYPD overreacted, breaking into his apartment and forcibly taking him to Jamaica Hospital. Schoolcraft secretly recorded the break-in. Upon his release, he refused to return to his job and moved upstate with his father, Larry. The NYPD made a dozen appearances at their home, and Larry said officers pounded on the door. The NYPD contacted local police to serve a warrant on the Schoolcrafts in the case.
Larry hired and fired half a dozen lawyers, and ended up rehiring his original one. Larry wasn’t just interested in pursuing his son’s case. He seemed to want a public airing of all sorts of unrelated corruption issues.
Over the years, the Schoolcrafts’ behavior became increasingly bizarre. They disappeared for months at a time. They changed their phone numbers. At one point, one of their lawyers asked Frank Serpico, who had befriended them, to track them down.
Serpico exposed systemic corruption at NYPD 45 years ago, inspiring people like Adrian. “The department wants to undermine all that they stand for by painting them as malcontents, nuts, psychos,” Serpico said in 2012. “The danger for Adrian is that his message may be lost and the department let off the hook.”
Serpico also struggled in dealing with Larry, and is no longer in contact with the Schoolcrafts. One thing is certain: Adrian Schoolcraft is no Frank Serpico.