Delrawn Small’s family demands judge stop delays in misconduct case for officer who shot him

Photo: Max Parrott

Police accountability advocates and the family of Delrawn Small, a man shot dead by an off-duty police officer in 2015, continued the six-year fight for administrative discipline for the policeman in a rally outside of Brooklyn Supreme Court on Monday.

Small’s brother Victor Dempsey, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and organizers for Communities United for Police Reform demanded for Brooklyn state Supreme Court Judge Danny Chun unseal records of Officer Wayne Isaacs’s criminal murder trial — a step that is that has prevented an administrative discipline case against him from moving forward for over a year.

“Every single attorney we’ve spoken to has said Judge Chun’s refusal to rule on the unsealing motion is highly unusual — especially given the fact that the state Attorney General’s office sent a letter to Judge Shun saying that they support the granting of this unsealing motion,” said Danny Kim, an organizer with Communities United for Police Reform.

NYPD officer Wayne Isaacs fatally shot Small with his service weapon in July 2016, reportedly after Small approached the window of Isaacs car at a stop light over a driving dispute, with his children and girlfriend in the car nearby. 

The New York Attorney General subsequently brought murder charges against Isaacs, but a jury acquitted him in 2017. A surveillance video of the incident, which raised questions about Isaac’s narrative, ultimately did not provide enough information to offer a conclusive account of the encounter, and Isaacs’ testimony became a central part of the trial, the New York Times reported.

After a separate internal NYPD investigation cleared Isaacs, Gothamist reported that he returned to active duty status.

But an internal case against Isaacs continues after years of delays. The Civilian Complaint Review Board voted in October of 2020 to substantiate an excessive-force complaint against Isaacs and recommended an internal trial over Small’s death. 

As of the now, the CCRB is waiting for the records from the murder trial to be unsealed before they pursue the case further. The result of the agency’s recommendations can range from formalized training to termination.

“We’ve lost justice already. We’re fighting for accountability. Accountability to say that a New Yorker’s life should not be taken in vain and that murderous officers have no place on the NYPD force,” said Dempsey.

The advocates said it’s not just the judge that’s been unresponsive but the city too. Communities United for Police Reform said for five months it has been asking the city Law Department, which is representing the CCRB, to send a letter to the judge asking for a timeline for when he plans to rule on the motion to unseal the records, but the agency has yet to do so. 

“You shouldn’t have to fight so hard to just have the process go through. This process always seems to get jammed up, particularly when there are police-involved shootings,” said Williams.