ITHACA, N.Y.—Ithaca Police Department officer Kevin Slattery will be suspended and demoted as a result of an investigation into comments he made on his body camera bragging about brutalizing a suspect during an arrest and joking about planting evidence.
The suspension will be for 30 days and will be unpaid for that period. Slattery’s demotion knocks him down from a sergeant to a police officer, and he is ineligible for promotion for two years.
He self-reported the body camera footage to the department, in which he is heard mocking suspect Jovan Monk, a Black man, and telling a story of beating him up and dragging him down a flight of stairs with other officers during an arrest in 2014. Crucially, the department’s investigation seems to conclude that Slattery did not actually engage in the beating and dragging of Monk that he claimed to have on tape (“These statements are also not truthful by you following an investigation” states the disciplinary notice). That, though, contradicts what Monk told investigators when interviewed at the beginning of December regarding Slattery’s conduct of his arrest. According to his attorney, Kevin Kelly, Monk confirmed Slattery’s version of the events said on tape.
Slattery was formally charged with violating the Ithaca Police Department’s General Orders, Rules and Regulations, specifically its sections on conduct and setting a good example as a supervisor. Outgoing IPD Chief Dennis Nayor wrote that Slattery had discredited the department through his conduct and that because of the media coverage they had generated, had tainted himself and other officers. He emphasized that the charges being brought were meant to emphasize that “words matter.”
“As a sergeant in a supervisory position, your actions on October 30, 2020, did not set a good example in conduct and appearance to subordinates,” Nayor wrote in his decision.
Mayor Svante Myrick announced the punishment along with a statement, and also released the Notice of Discipline handed down by Nayor to Slattery. The entire document can be viewed at the bottom of this story.
“Sgt. Slattery’s comments raise serious concerns regarding respect for evidentiary integrity, respect for the public, and above all the imperative to avoid—and counsel the avoidance of—use of force whenever possible,” Myrick said. “As a result, the city is seeking serious discipline for this serious breach of responsibility.”
Included in Myrick’s statement are additional comments from Earl Redding, identified as outside counsel to the city with “extensive experience in police disciplinary issues.” His comments seem to shed a light on the difficulty that the city faces when punishing police officers—processes that are often only completed after lengthy arbitration with the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association, the union which represents IPD officers.
“I advised IPD that the level of discipline sought against Sgt. Slattery—including demotion and an unpaid suspension—fit the available precedents in other agencies,” according to Redding. “On the one hand, this situation involved serious misconduct by a supervisor in the presence of a subordinate. On the other hand, there is no evidence that Sgt. Slattery actually engaged in the acts he described, and he has shown contrition and cooperation in the aftermath of his deeply unfortunate comments. As a result, termination from IPD would be both disproportionate and unavailable as an outcome in the upcoming disciplinary arbitration.”