Greg B. Smith, The City
The high-ranking NYPD cop set to become interim police commissioner was accused in 2006 of threatening a man who’d declined to produce his ID during a questionable stop and frisk. First Deputy Commissioner Edward Caban, then a police captain, allegedly told the man he was “getting ready with the broomstick” — a reference to Abner Louima’s infamous brutalization at the hands of NYPD officers in 1997.
The independent Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) substantiated the man’s complaint that he was wrongly issued a summons for disobeying a lawful order, but said that his claims Caban had cursed at and threatened him, and which Caban denied, were “unfounded.”
Caban, now the second-in-command at One Police Plaza, is expected to serve as interim commissioner after Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who announced her resignation earlier this week, departs at the end of the month.
Caban has spent his entire career in the NYPD, starting as a patrol officer in the South Bronx in 1991 when crime in New York City had reached record proportions, and rising all the way to first deputy commissioner at a salary of $242,000.
The 2006 incident involved a police stop, at a time when the number of stops and frisks had risen dramatically under the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Ray Kelly.
Just five years after the city had reached a then-record $8.75 million settlement with Louima in a civil suit over the police brutality he’d endured in 1997, police made more than 500,000 stops in 2006. Almost all of these stops targeted Black or Hispanic civilians, 90% of whom were sent on their way without an arrest. The number of stops would continue to rise through 2011, when there were more than 685,000.
The pervasive use of “stop and frisk” policing had been criticized for years as racially biased and seriously damaging to police-community relations. Then-Commissioner Kelly, pointing to a drop in the crime rate that began in the early 1990s and continued on his watch, defended its use as necessary to quell what he said would be rampant gun violence otherwise.
The NYPD was sued over its use of the tactic in 2011, and in 2013 a Manhattan federal judge ruled that the NYPD had used it in an unconstitutional manner. After that, the number of stops plummeted, to around 15,000 last year under Mayor Eric Adams and Commissioner Sewell.
‘We’re Going To Do This the Hard Way’
In 2006, however, the number of police stops had gone up five-fold in just five years, to 506,491 from 97,296 just four years earlier.
Shortly after 1 a.m. on the morning of Aug. 4, 2006, Caban, then a captain, was patrolling East Harlem’s 23rd Precinct with two rookie cops when they saw a man standing alone on a street corner, according to a report by the CCRB, the independent agency that looks into allegations of police misconduct.
The man, whose name was blacked out throughout the report, is described as a light-skinned, 60-year-old Black man who listed his profession as “consultant” and had no criminal record. He told the CCRB that he was at the corner that morning because his daughter had called and asked him to pick her up because she’d had a dispute with her boyfriend. He said when he arrived, she told him to wait outside while she got ready to leave.
As he was waiting on the corner, a patrol car pulled up and three cops got out, including one wearing the signature white shirt of the NYPD’s top ranks. That was Caban, according to the CCRB report.
Cops are only supposed to stop and question individuals when there is a “reasonable suspicion” that someone has committed or is about to commit a crime. One of the key criticisms of stop and frisk was that cops made up reasonable suspicion to justify stopping people for no real reason.
In this case, the complainant said the white-shirted cop who the CCRB identified as Caban demanded to see his ID. When the man refused, saying he’d done nothing wrong, Caban allegedly started spewing profanities, and said, “I asked you nicely, now we’re going to do this the hard way,” according to the report.
Caban then pushed the complainant face down on the hood of the squad car, cuffed his hands behind him, and punched him in the lower back as he frisked him, the complainant alleged. When Caban found the man’s ID, he told him he was being arrested “for not living in the neighborhood,” the complainant told CCRB.
The report said Caban continued to curse at the man, prompting the man to ask why he was using so many profanities. Caban responded, “Fuck you don’t give me none of that white boy talk,” the report states.
The man was brought to the precinct and placed in a holding cell. When he complained to Caban about being punched in the back, Caban said he was “getting ready with the broomstick,” which the CCRB stated was a reference to the notorious 1997 brutality case in which an NYPD cop sodomized Louima with a broomstick inside a station house and threatened to kill him if he told anyone what had happened.
(That cop, Justin Volpe, was released from prison after 24 years last month.)
The complainant sat in the holding cell for nearly a half hour when Caban came in and told him he’d arrested him because Caban had wanted to check if the man had any outstanding arrest warrants. The report states that Caban told CCRB he questioned the man under what he described as “the common law right of inquiry.”
The report states that Caban then ordered one of the two rookies who assisted in the arrest to issue a summons to the man for disorderly conduct, and that Caban told the man the summons was “bullshit” and “would be dismissed by a judge,” the complainant told CCRB.
The summons issued against the man was for refusal to comply with a lawful order to disperse and it was, indeed, dismissed a few months later, CCRB found. By then the man had filed a formal complaint with CCRB, whose investigators then questioned Caban and the two patrol officers who were with him during the arrest, Brian Quire and Maribel Soriano.
Captain Caban and Police Officer Quire gave CCRB investigators conflicting accounts of the justification for the stop.
Caban told CCRB he’d stopped and questioned the man because there had been a “robbery pattern” involving Black or Hispanic males 5’6” to 5’8” in the area and that the complainant — who was 5’9” — fit the description.
In his patrol memo book, however, Quire had written he had reasonable suspicion to stop the man because he “acted suspicious in drug prone location.” He made no mention of robbery suspects.
Caban told CCRB’s investigators that the arrest had been justified because the complainant became “agitated” and “placed his hands near his pockets.” Caban said he “feared for his life” because the alleged robbery pattern involved guns — something he hadn’t mentioned at first.
Caban denied cursing at the complainant or saying that he was “getting ready with the broomstick.”
Quire said Caban was “very nice and polite” with the complainant, and “did not recall” Caban cursing or using force against the man. Soriano denied even being there, and there were no non-police witnesses cited by CCRB.
In its 2008 closing report, CCRB believed Caban and not the man they found he wrongfully arrested, finding that his allegations of abuse of authority, discourtesy, use of force, threat of force and cursing were “unfounded.”
CCRB procedure is to forward its findings to the NYPD, which then decides whether or not punishment of any kind is due. In this case, the penalty for the retaliatory summons Caban gave the man was “instructions,” which means he would be reminded of the NYPD’s protocols about issuing summons.
Caban had one other prior CCRB complaint that was substantiated, dating to 1997 when he was a sergeant. In that case, the review board determined he had refused to tell a complainant the name of two patrol officers she wanted to file a complaint against. Caban received a “command discipline,” essentially an admonition that went into his personnel file.
He also was docked 20 vacation days, and paid $428 in restitution, in 2010 when he was a deputy inspector for unauthorized personal use of a department vehicle and E-ZPass, and for transporting an unauthorized person in that vehicle.
The NYPD did not respond to requests for comment about Caban’s record.
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