New York City paid out a whopping $121 million in settlements over alleged police misconduct in 2022 — with critics sounding alarms about the increase over the last five years.
Last year’s total marked a more than 40% increase from the $87 million shelled out by the NYPD in 2021, part of an upward trend in the amount paid to settle such civil claims, according to data compiled by the Legal Aid Society.
“The numbers are very high,” staff attorney Jennvine Wong, who works in Legal Aid’s special litigation unit, told The Post on Thursday.
“It makes us ask if the city is taking accountability of officers seriously.”
The data, collected by the Big Apple’s largest legal nonprofit from city Law Department public reports, shows 939 police misconduct lawsuits were settled last year.
Six of the lawsuits resulted in payouts of more than $10 million, accounting for about 60% — or roughly $73 million — of the total, according to the report released Thursday.
Among them was the $13 million settled to Muhammad Aziz, one of the men wrongfully convicted for the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X.
A Law Department spokesman said the uptick is due to the increased number of exonerations that have come as city district attorney’s offices continue to review prior criminal cases for wrongful convictions.
“We are committed to promptly reviewing matters to keep litigation costs down and to provide some measure of justice to plaintiffs who were wrongfully convicted,” spokesman Nick Paolucci said.
Last year’s tally could be even higher — as the city’s report doesn’t include the $13 million payout to the family of Khalil Islam, who was also exonerated in Malcolm X’s killing and who died in 2009.
The city settled with Islam’s estate, which takes longer to process, according to Paolucci.
The omission, however, highlights how the city reports on NYPD lawsuit settlements remain incomplete, despite The Post revealing flaws in the tally four years ago.
Then-Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2017 signed a law requiring the city to post online “information about civil action alleging misconduct commenced against the police department and individual officers” twice a year.
But The Post later reported the city was missing settlements for millions of dollars. More than 400 lawsuits settled over just a three-month span in 2019 were omitted from the report, leaving $22 million in funds paid out unaccounted for, a data analysis found.
That’s because the Big Apple does not include settlements struck after complainants alerted the city of their intention to sue via a “notice of claim” but before a formal suit was filed.
It also fails to account for any lawsuits that were filed more than five years from when the report is released.
Those loopholes currently remain unaddressed despite outrage from lawmakers and groups such as Legal Aid, a review found.
“The data set itself is still imperfect but we should still be alarmed,” Wong said of the uptick over the last five years.
A spokesperson for the NYPD noted it’s up to the Law Department and City Comptroller’s Office as to when to settle and for how much, while saying the department often “engages in dialogue” to reduce the number of lawsuits and amount in payouts.
“The NYPD actively seeks out information learned from these lawsuits in order to improve officer performance and enhance training or policy, where necessary,” the spokesperson said.
Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said civil settlements don’t provide a “fair or accurate measure” of how cops perform.
“The city routinely settles cases in which police officers have done nothing wrong, and some of the largest payouts arise from decades-old cases that don’t involve a single cop who is still on the job today,” Lynch said in a statement.