One of the misconduct charges against the officers involved in the fatal 2019 police shooting of 32-year-old gay man Kawaski Trawick was dropped just days before the beginning of a disciplinary trial in the case.
Trawick’s parents — who traveled to New York fr0m Georgia last week to rally at NYPD headquarters — said they learned through the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) that NYPD deputy commissioner of trials Rosemarie Maldonado dropped the charge related to illegal entry, though other charges remain. The NYPD did not respond to Gay City News’ request for comment on April 20 — just four days before both officers are slated to begin their respective trials on April 24. In a written statement to Gay City News, the CCRB criticized the dropped charge.
“We strongly disagree with the decision,” a CCRB spokesperson said. “Deputy Commissioner Maldonado overstepped her authority and we are exploring all our options.”
New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams responded to the news by describing the dropped charge as “an outrageous subversion of civilian oversight for police misconduct” that “bypasses and undermines the established process of a scheduled disciplinary trial for actions that led to the killing of a New Yorker.”
Nearly two years ago, the CCRB substantiated allegations of abuse of authority and use of force against Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis for their actions during the two minutes leading up to Trawick’s death at his home in a supportive living environment in the Bronx. Call records from dispatchers that night indicated that Trawick was experiencing distress: He called 911 complaining that there was a fire and that he was locked out, although firefighters did not discover any fire. The superintendent of the building and a security guard called police because of neighbors who complained about Trawick.
Video footage released in the aftermath of the incident showed that when Thompson and Davis eventually arrived, they entered Trawick’s apartment without his permission. Trawick — who had a serrated knife and was cooking — asked the officers why they were in his apartment. They directed him to drop his knife, but he pressed the officers on why they entered his home. Thompson then tased Trawick before dropping the taser. Trawick subsequently rose up again, at which point Thompson fatally shot him. The officers are also facing criticism for allegedly failing to render aid.
Dozens of elected officials in New York, from the Council the State Legislature, signed a letter on April 17 urging Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell to “ensure that all of the current misconduct charges against Officers Thompson and Davis continue to be part of the disciplinary proceeding that is schedule to begin on April 24th.” The lawmakers blasted the Police Benevolent Association union for allegedly attempting to dismiss all the charges and block the trial.
Trawick’s mother voiced outrage on April 20 after learning about the dropped charge.
“I’m disgusted and heartbroken that once again the NYPD has put up another roadblock to accountability for my son,” Ellen Trawick, Kawaski Trawick’s mother, said in a written statement. “They act like this is a game, but I feel like they’re murdering Kawaski all over again. This doesn’t even make any sense that they would toss charges that have been standing for two years, just days before the trial is supposed to begin.”
Justice Committee, an organization supporting the family, suggested in a press release that a 2012 Memorandum of Understanding involving the CCRB and NYPD stipulates that decisions to drop charges should come from the police commissioner except in “cases in which there are parallel or related criminal investigations, or when, in the case of an officer with no disciplinary history or prior substantiated CCRB complaints, based on such officer’s record and disciplinary history the interests of justice would not be served.”
Those concerns were echoed by the speaker.
“There are serious questions as to whether these actions violate the 2012 Memorandum of Understanding between the NYPD and CCRB that require further examination and scrutiny,” said Speaker Adams, who added that “this is just the latest example of NYPD seeking to impede.”
The NYPD’s calendar of administrative trial dates shows that Thompson will face a hearing at 10 a.m. on April 24 for a use of force charge, while Davis will face a failure to render charge on the same day at the same time.
According to 50-a.org, which lists complaints against officers, Thompson has faced several allegations by women and Black men dating back to 2018, including abuse of authority complaints for failing to provide his name, use of force complaints for using physical force against a female between the age of 10-14, and use of force for using a “nonlethal restraining device” against a Black 30-year-old male in 2000. He has faced 13 allegations, but only the complaints pertaining to Trawick have been substantiated. The complaint for using a nonlethal restraining device is currently listed as “closed-pending litigation.”
Officer Davis also has numerous allegations on file — 13 to be exact — dating back to 2008, including abuse of authority for refusing to provide name/shield number and a 2005 abuse of authority complaint for “premises entered and/or searched.” Most recently, there were two physical force complaints against him in 2022 by a man in his 30s. So far, only the Trawick complaints have been substantiated, but his 2022 complaints are listed as “closed-pending litigation.”