WASHINGTON — Two New York Police Department officers who allegedly used department computers to alter Wikipedia pages on several high profile police brutality cases have been identified, but will likely only receive reprimands, according to reports.
The NYPD said the two veteran officers were tracked to a computer registered to 1 Police Plaza, and included changes to the posting surrounding the July 2014 death of Eric Garner, who died in Staten Island after a police officer put him in a chokehold.
Police commissioner Bill Bratton made the announcement Monday, but did not name the officers.
“Two officers, who have been identified, were using department equipment to access Wikipedia and make entries,” said Bratton. “I don’t anticipate any punishment, quite frankly.”
Police sources told the DNAinfo blog that editing Wikipedia was within an officer’s First Amendment Rights.
The Wikipedia entry on Garner was edited shortly after a grand jury decided not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo for Garner’s death, on Dec. 2, 2014.
“Garner raised both his arms in the air” was edited to say “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke,” according to Capital New York, which said previous edits referred to the Amadou Diallo case.
In addition, the sentence “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was added to the entry, reported the Capital.
Two references to “chokehold” were replaced with “chokehold or headlock” and “respiratory distress.”
Most of the changes were later removed by other Wikipedia users.
Bratton says the department doesn’t have a specific policy regarding Wikipedia, but is reviewing its social media rules.
The NYPD officers will likely only face a minor reprimand for using department computers for personal activity, according to police sources quoted by DNAinfo.
“When you are using city computers it is supposed to be for city business,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. “This was not authorized business.”