Off-duty NYPD cop’s penalty for drunken San Fran folly amounts to lost time, counseling and yoga

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Newly appointed New York Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell is facing criticism over the relatively lightweight punishment she doled out to an NYPD officer who’d gotten herself into some legal trouble while vacationing in San Francisco last year.

The officer reportedly received only a deduction of 30 days of vacation, in addition to required counseling that wound up consisting of her doing yoga.

The punishment was signed off by Sewell, who was appointed to her post last December by NYC Mayor Eric Adams:

The officer, Catherine Lamonica, 38, was grabbing dinner with some friends in San Francisco on April 10th, 2021, when she decided to set out on her own to a nearby bar, according to NYPD disciplinary documents reviewed by the New York Post.

About an hour after setting out, she let her friends know via phone that she was headed back to their hotel. She then turned off her phone because of its low battery.

She apparently got lost afterward, because an hour later she briefly turned the phone back on to ask for directions. The phone reportedly directed her onto Interstate 80, and stunningly, she complied by walking out onto the Interstate.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

“Multiple people called 911 reporting that ‘a female was walking in the freeway,’ and, when California Highway Patrol responded to the scene, they found the officer ‘standing in the median center divider looking over the railing by the concrete,'” the Post reports, quoting from the disciplinary documents.

The officers then “removed Office Lamonica, place[d] her in handcuffs for everyone’s safety, placed her in their police vehicle and transported Officer Lamonica to their headquarters,” the documents reportedly say.

But once in custody, she “refused to comply with the Officers[sic] request allowing them to speak to the NYPD Supervisor while on the phone, because she wanted to make the notification to her command and operations first,” according to the documents.

Worse, she reportedly acted “belligerent, argumentative and discourteous” to the arresting officers. And then when she reported her arrest to her superiors, she accused the arresting officers of having assaulted her.

She was eventually taken to a hospital “because [she] was intoxicated, could not care for herself,” according to the documents.

The charges against her — public intoxication, pedestrian prohibited on restricted freeways and failure to obey signs — were later dropped by a local assistant district attorney because her “office doesn’t file infractions,” the documents say.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office told the Post for their part that they were never involved with the case.

Returning back to New York, Lamonica was able to “cut a deal” with Sewell “that allowed her to avoid an internal disciplinary trial — and possible termination,” according to the Post.

“If the department decided that Lamonica’s false claim of excessive force was an aggravating factor in her case, she could have faced termination, according to the NYPD’s disciplinary matrix,” the Post reports.

“Instead, for admitting to being unfit for duty and being discourteous to the officers, Lamonica was docked the standard 30 vacation days, went to six weeks of counseling, volunteered with the department’s stress-management section — and did yoga with the department.”

Yes, yoga …

She didn’t even receive the one year of probation that NYPD regulations say she should have received.

(Source: NYPD)

In a memo written in February, Sewell specifically accused Lamonica only of being “unfit for duty while on vacation” and claimed she’d “committed no other misconduct.”

She then praised Lamonica’s history of “commendable reviews” and “no formal disciplinary history.”

“In this case, Police Officer Lamonica acknowledged being unfit for duty while on vacation in California. Officer Lamonica committed no other misconduct in connection with this incident, made timely notifications to the Department, and was cooperative with the Department’s subsequent investigation. Additionally, Officer Lamonica has received commendable reviews and has no prior or subsequent alcohol-related incidents and has no formal disciplinary history,” the memo reads.

“After reviewing the facts and circumstances of this matter, I have determined that the limited scope of the misconduct in this matter calls for a penalty less than the presumptive penalty provided in the Department’s Disciplinary System Penalty Guidelines. Therefore, a penalty to consist of the forfeiture of thirty (30) vacation days and cooperation with counseling will be imposed in this matter.”

Lamonica’s race is unclear. The race of the woman who signed off on her lightweight punishment, however, is black …

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