THE DEATH OF SUNNY SHEU: UPDATE
THE NYC DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION, NYPD INTERNAL AFFAIRS AND THE NYPD DETECTIVE BUREAU CONTINUE THE COVER UP
By Will Galison (with Milton Allimadi)
January 10, 2016
Pre-Publication Fact Check Request to Mayor De Blasio, DOI Commissioner Mark Peters, and Inspector General Philip Eure
In many of the other cases, there could be consideration of human error, as opposed to sheer malice. Did the NYPD cops who killed Eric Garner really mean to kill him? Did the Ferguson officer who shot Michael Brown feel threatened? Did the driver of the van in which Freddie Gray was killed set out to intentionally kill him? Whatever the answers may be, and whatever mitigating circumstances they do or do not represent, these questions at least can be asked.
In the Sheu case, there are no such questions. Sheu was unquestionably the victim of a mortgage fraud, and unquestionably denied due process by the judge. He was unquestionably illegally detained, and was concerned enough about his life to beg the FBI for witness protection from his NYPD abductors. However Shue received the fatal blows to his head, there can be no question that the entire Law Enforcement system of New York City, including the NYPD, the Queens DA, the Attorney Genera of New York State, the Department of Investigation, the Office of Inspector General, the Governor, and even the the FBI have conspired to cover up the facts and circumstances of that fatal event.
The ultimate, terrifying moral of the Sunny Sheu story is this: If you are threatened with death by the police in the USA, there is no where you can go for protection, and after you are killed, there is no where your friends and loved ones can go for justice. That is why this story is of critical important to every American citizen.
The BSN letter ignored by the Mayor's office and NYPD Commissioners included allegations and evidence of many felonies by numerous agents of the NYPD - all relating to the death of Mr. Sheu - including illegal detention, illegal search and seizure, death threats, illegal removal of a body from a hospital, providing false evidence the Medical Examiner and potential complicity in a murder. Most significantly, the letter alerted the Mayor and Commissioner that the NYPD had failed to investigate a death ruled as “undetermined” by the Medical Examiner, as they are obligated to do.
NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION: “NEW YORK CITY'S WATCHDOG”
In either case; that of corruption of individual city employees, or systemic corruption in a government agency, the “watchdog agency” over corruption in the New York City government is the NY Department of Investigation (DOI). According to their website: “[DOI] Investigations may involve any agency, officer, elected official or employee of the City... As New York City's watchdog, DOI's strategy attacks corruption comprehensively through systemic investigations that lead to high-impact arrests, preventive controls and operational reforms that improve the way the City runs.”
Contes replied that he would forward the case to DOI Chief of Investigations, John Kantor and that we would be hearing back from Kantor “within a day or two”. Interestingly, Kantor formerly held a high-level position at the famously corrupt NY Department of Buildings during the period when Judge Golia's brother, James Golia, was the Assistant Commissioner.
DOI CHIEF OF INVESTIGATIONS JOHN KANTOR TRANSFERS THE CASE TO EDDIE LEBRON OF THE NYPD / DOI SQUAD
DETECTIVE EDDIE LEBRON OF THE NYPD/DOI SQUAD CONFIRMS THAT THE DOI IS INVESTIGATING THE CASE
Lebron Contacted the BSN on June 12th, confirming that a DOI investigation of the Sheu case was underway: “The NYC Department of Investigation ( DOI ) is currently conducting an investigation into this matter. I am not able to meet with you in person at this time. I understand your desire to assist in this process but certain investigative steps must be completed, before anyone at DOI speaks with you. Please feel free to call me or correspond by email with any documentation or information that could assist in this investigation.”
“THE NYPD DOI SQUAD” IS NOT PART OF THE DOI AND IS FORBIDDEN FROM INVESTIGATING THE NYPD OR AIDING THE OIG/NYPD. THEIR “INVESTIGATION” WAS A FRAUD.
There is a very good reason why the NYPD/DOI Squad never got back to BSN. It turns out that the NYPD/DOI Squad is simply an NYPD detective squad, and as such has no jurisdiction over cases involving misconduct or criminality by NYPD personnel. The only agencies in the NYPD with such jurisdiction are the Bureau of Internal Affairs (IAB) and the Chief of Detective's Bureau
The Role of the NYPD/DOI Squad
The sole function of the NYPD/DOI Squad is to aid investigations at the request of one of the various Inspector Generals within the DOI, except for Office of Inspector General for NYPD Affairs, OIG/NYPD, whom they are expressly prohibited to assist, due to obvious conflict of interest. A detective from the NYPD/DOI Squad who requested anonymity stated: “We have nothing to do the OIG/NYPD part of it.. apparently they investigate us, the NYPD, I guess policies and procedures and stuff like that. So we don't work with them, because basically they're investigating us”.
Thomas Mahoney, Chief of investigations for the Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD also confirmed this, stating: “the DOI/NYPD never handled complaints about the police department”.
THE NYPD/DOI SQUAD “INVESTIGATION” CITED BY LEBRON NEVER HAPPENED
As explained, the NYPD/DOI Squad is not part of the DOI. The only Inspector General in the DOI authorized to investigate the NYPD is the OIG/NYPD, which confirmed that they had no knowledge of the Sheu case before July 19, 2014. So Lebron's statement of June 12, that the “The NYC Department of Investigation ( DOI ) is currently conducting an investigation” is patently false. There was no investigation by the DOI; and all of Lebron's communications with the BSN were fraudulent, intended only to mislead the BSN into believing that the Sheu case was being investigated, when it was not; by anybody.
KANTOR ALSO LIED ABOUT THE DOI/NYPD SQUAD “INVESTIGATION”
On June 30, 2014, Kantor wrote: “DOI is continuing to obtain relevant records regarding Mr. Sheu’s death from several agencies. We have received some of the requested records, but we need to obtain further records
UPDATE: DOI CONFIRMS THAT NEITHER THE DOI NOR THE NYPD/DOI SQUAD EVER INVESTIGAED THE SHEU CASE
On December 22, 2015 the BSN filed a FOIL request with the DOI, demanding:
1) All documents pertaining in any way to the “review” mentioned by John Kantor in his email of June 30th, 2014, including the “original documentation regarding Mr. Sheu’s death...” and
2) All documents pertaining in any way to the “investigation” by The NYC Department of Investigation mentioned in the below e-mail from Detective Lebron, including the investigation, number, status of case and names of the investigators involved”
In her response of December 29, 2015, Elyse Hirschorn, Chief Investigative Attorney for the DOI wrote: “Neither the Department of Investigation nor the [NYPD] Department of Investigation Squad ever investigated this matter.”
Hirschorn then attempted to bend the truth by continuing: “Rather, the issues you raised were forwarded to the Inspector General for the New York Police Department (“OIG/NYPD”) for appropriate action.”
In fact, neither DOI nor the NYPD/DOI transferred the case to the OIG. As explained below, the Sheu complaint was introduced to the OIG by the Blackstar News in a letter of July 19, 2014, and Inspector General Philip Eure and his deputy Sandra Musemeschi, both stated that they had never heard of the case or the name Sunny Sheu before being notified by the BSN.
KANTOR TRANSFERRED THE SHEU CASE TO AN AGENCY WITH NO JURISDICTION, AND BURIED IT.
DOI Assistant Commissioner Jon Kantor knew that the NYPD/DOI Squad is not part of the DOI and that it is forbidden from investigating on behalf of the NYPD/DOI. Therefore; when he gave the case to the NYPD/DOI Squad, he was knowingly giving the case to an agency without jurisdiction, and removing it from the DOI's legitimate jurisdiction. He buried it.
KANTOR CONCEALED THE COMPLAINT FROM THE SOLE AGENCY WITH JURISDICTION OVER THE CASE; THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL/ NYPD.
Had the Sunny Sheu complaint arrived at Kantor's desk before March 28, 2014, they may have had reason to refer the complaint to the NYPD, but only to the IAB or Detective's Squad, which were at that time the only city agencies with jurisdiction over NYPD misconduct. On that date however, in the wake of the IAB's mishandling of the Eric Garner scandal and amid great fanfare, Mayor De Blasio created a new agency within the DOI, specifically to investigate NYPD improprieties; the Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD (OIG/NYPD). After the creation of the OIG/NYPD, on May 28, 2014, any complaint to the DOI regarding the NYPD was referred directly to the OIG/NYPD.
On July 2, 2014. the BSN called the DOI for an update, and asked to speak to Lebron at the NYPD/DOI squad. The receptionist asked what the call regarded, and when told that it was a complaint against the NYPD, she responded: “the NYPD/DOI squad does not investigate complaints against the NYPD... that kind of thing is handled by the Office of the Inspector General for the NYPD”. Despite the BSN's insistence that the case had been investigated by the DOI/NYPD squad for over a month, the receptionist connected us to the OIG/NYPD.
Thus, after nearly two months of communication with the DOI, this receptionist was the first person at the DOI to mention the existence of the OIG to the BSN.
The BSN immediately wrote to Lebron, Kantor and Contes, demanding an explanation of why our complaint had been withheld from the OIG, and asking: “Have you or Mr. Kantor brought the Sunny Sheu case to the attention of Mr. Eure? ...” Lebron, Kantor and Contes never responded to this letter, and the BSN never heard from them again.
BSN SUBMITS THE CASE TO THE OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR THE NYPD
On July 19, 2014, the Blackstar News filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Inspector General (“OIG”) This was in the form of a certified letter directly addressed to Philip Eure, the Inspector General for NYPD Affairs (“OIG/NYPD”) and his deputy, Sandra Musumechi, both of whom confirmed receipt.
Musumechi and Eure both stated, on the record, that prior to receiving the July 19, letter, the OIG/NYPD had never received any information about the Sunny Sheu case, had never heard the name, and had never been contacted about it by NY DOI NYPD Squad. This confirms unequivocally that Lebron and the NYPD/DOI Squad had concealed the case and their “investigation” entirely from the OIG.
The July 19, 2014 letter to Eure discussed not only the circumstances of Sheu's death and the ensuing cover up. It also emphasized the cover up by Lebron and the NYPD/DOI Squad, which, being part of the NYPD, is firmly under the OIG's jurisdiction.
INSPECTOR PHILIP EURE CONTINUES THE COVER UP
When Inspector General Philip Eure was personally selected by DOI Commissioner Mark Peters to lead the Office of the Inspector General for NYPD, he was advertised as an independent “outsider” with no loyalties to the NYPD, who would sweep the department clean without regard for entrenched power. Mayor De Blasio called Eure “One of the nation's premiere police accountability experts”.
The July 19 letter informs Eure, that a case involving possible complicity by the NYPD in a murder, which has been covered up by the NYPD, had been hijacked, buried and concealed from his agency by a corrupt NYPD agency (the NYPD/DOI), operating out of the very same building in which Eure was fighting NYPD corruption
Did Eure demand an investigation of the NYPD/DOI's role in covering up the case? Remarkably, Eure never responded to the July 19, 2014 letter, nor did he request any emails, phone recordings and other documentation of the NYPD/DOI’s phony investigation. Indeed, to our knowledge, no branch of the DOI or any other law enforcement agency has ever investigated the cover up of the Sunny Sheu case by the NYPD/DOI Squad.
After many insistent follow up emails and calls by the BSN, however, Thomas Mahoney, Chief Investigator the Inspector General's office finally spoke to the BSN about the Sunny Sheu case, and finally consented to interview BSN Publisher Allimadi and reporter Galison.
The Office of the Inspector General Interviews Galison and Allimadi
On January 16th, at the DOI Headquarters, BSN met with OIG Investigator Edward Sanchez and Chief Investigator Joe Carhina. From the outset, it was clear that this would be “good cop/ bad cop” scenario, with Sanchez being obsequious to the point of annoyance, and Carinha being rude and dismissive to the point of aggression. Carinha even implied that Sheu had brought the illegal detention and death threats upon himself, by placing a note in the Judge's mailbox. with no concern for the raft of illegal acts involved with his detention and interrogation, not to mention his eventual death and the ensuing cover up
The BSN came prepared to answer questions clarifying and expanding upon on the evidence provided in the July 19 and accompanying documents. For example, Allimadi was expecting to be asked to present his testimony that Dr. Ahmed had told him that “foul play” was involved in Sunny Sheu's death. Allimadi's account is critically important to the case; if Ahmed was coerced into lying about the head trauma, then the people who coerced him were powerful enough to compel a doctor into committing a felony (accessory to murder after the fact), and interested in protecting the perpetrators. Ahmed's confession of “foul play” is the key to the entire case, and should be of utmost concern to any honest investigator.
But Allimadi's account was immediately dismissed by the investigators as irrelevant. When Allimadi offered to sign a sworn affidavit and take a polygraph test to confirm his statement, Carinha objected that “lie detector tests are not allowed as evidence in a trial”. The investigators ignored the fact that sworn affidavits are often presented as evidence in criminal cases, and a voluntary lie detector test may be certainly used as a basis for suspicion. Finally, when Galison asked if Ahmed would be questioned at all, Carinha replied “only if he chooses to come in...we can't force him”.
The OIG Neglects to Investigate The Key Questions of the Case
During the interview, in fact, neither Sanchez nor Carinha asked Allimadi or Galison a single question regarding the case. The only questions were asked by Allimadi and Galison, and while all the answers were vague and evasive, some revealed important clues as to the nature of the OIG's “investigation”, specifically, that the OIG:
- never interviewed Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed, the ER Doctor who concealed Sheu's fatal head trauma and admitted to Allimadi that “foul play” was involved in Sheu’s death.
When reminded that all the 911 witnesses mentioned a man lying in the street and none mentioned a man falling down, Carhina replied: “Just because what you hear on 911, doesn't mean that later on when somebody was interviewed, that they may not add a little bit more...”
When reminded that there was no documentation of any interview with this alleged witness, no mention in the responding officer's notebook, no DD5, in fact none of the many mandatory official documents reflecting the existence of an interview, and that both Queens Assistant District Laura Weinstock and 109th Pct. Detective Ardisano had told the BSN that there was no witness, Carinha replied: “Well, you just said that [the NYPD] sent something to the M.E's office so there is something in writing that said that somebody saw him fall, so something is in writing, right?” In other words, according to Carhina's logic, the NYPD memo mentioning the witness must be true simply because the memo existed.
- never investigated the NYPD’s failure to investigate a death ruled as “undetermined” by the Medical Examiner.
DOI CHIEF INVESTIGATOR FINDS "NOTHING SUSPICIOUS"ABOUT THE SHEU CASE
At the conclusion of the forty-five minute interview, Allimadi cut to the chase by asking Carinha a simple question: “Do you see [anything in the Sunny Sheu case] that looks suspicious?” to which Carinha answered without hesitation: “No”.
SHEU HAD “LOTS OF INJURIES; NOT JUST TO HIS HEAD”: MEDICAL EXAMINER
Despite the investigators' efforts to be opaque, Sanchez let slip one fact of great significance. He stated that he interviewed Dr. Michael Greenberg, the Medical Examiner who autopsied Sheu's body and subpoenaed his medical records, and according to Sanchez “[the Medical Examiner] determined that there was lots of injuries - not just to the head - and the matter was undetermined”.
This is a bombshell: how could Sheu have sustained lots of his injuries to different parts of his body, simply by falling over and hitting his head? “Lots of injuries” is consistent with a man fighting for his life, not with a man having a seizure and falling straight down on the ground and into a coma. It also re-emphasizes the question of why Dr. Ahmed, who examined Sheu thoroughly in the hours before his death, told Sheu's friends that Sheu suffered no external injuries at all. How could Ahmed, in the course of four hours of intensive life saving procedures, have failed to notice significant injuries all over Sheu's body, in addition to the fatal “trauma to the head with multiple skull fractures and brain injuries”?
BSN LETTER TO OIG CHEIF INVESTIGATOR THOMAS MAHONEY RE: CARHINA
On January 18, 2015 the BSN wrote a letter to OIG Chief Inspector Thomas Mahoney - once again sent by certified mail and copied to Philip Eure, Mark Peters and Mayor De Blasio - entitled “ Profound Concerns Regarding Your Senior Investigator, Joseph Carinha”, and expressing the BSN's outrage over the bias and ignorance of the OIG Investigator. The BSN has never received a response from Mahoney, Eure, Peters or Mayor De Blasio.
THE OIG'S VIOLATION OF NY FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW.
Stonewalled by a total blackout of communication from the OIG, the BSN decided to request documents from them through the NY State Freedom of information law (FOIL). If the OIG had done any investigation on the case at all, we reasoned, they would have had to have subpoenaed, at the bare minimum:
- The name of the party that ordered the detention of Sunny Sheu in January 2009
- The records of the “interview” of Sheu by the Detectives who detained him
- The party that ordered the removal of Sheu's body from the Queens Hospital
- The police officers who removed Sheu's body from the Queens Hospital
- The name of the alleged “witness” who allegedly saw Sheu collapse
- Any NYPD paperwork the “interview” in which an alleged witness said he saw Sheu collapse
- The NYPD documents reflecting the false cause and false manner of Sheu's death, as cited by Detective Ardisano.
Under FOIL law, the OIG would, at the very least, be required to state whether each individual requested document was in their possession, if they were available to the public or not, and if not, precisely why not. Of course, according to the NYPD, and to OIG there was no crime and no evidence of a crime, and thus no investigation. So what could be the basis on which to keep any documents secret?
On January 19, 2015, the BSN sent a request for documents to the FOIL officer at the OIG, Assim Rehman, who is also the OIG's legal council. The request was unambiguous. It asked for “all documents” pertaining to 24 separate and distinct documents, relating to the death of Sunny Sheu and its cover up by the NYPD.
Under FOIL law - by default - every document generated by the government must be made available to the public, except documents which may be withheld or redacted because they fall under specific “exceptions” which are detailed in the FOIL law.
The response of Rehman was to utterly ignore the rules and precedent of FOIL case law. Rehman not only refused to provide a single document requested; he failed to specify the exception for each requested, illegally grouped all of the 24 demands together and denied them all in one sentence: “Any material which may be in the possession of this department that would be responsive to your request would be exempt from disclosure would interfere with law enforcement investigations”.
By this meticulously evasive wording, Rehman tried to skirt the pertinent question of which documents the OIG possessed, so that it could not be determined whether the OIG had actually investigated the case or not
WHY THE SUNNY SHEU CASE IS “SYSTEMIC”
Though it may seem a matter of semantics, the question of whether the BSN complaints to the DOI represent “systemic” problems with the NYPD or not, is the key to their jurisdiction. According to the OIG website, cases deemed “systemic” or regarding “policy or procedure” are under the unique jurisdiction of the OIG, and those considered “complaints against individual officers”, are under the jurisdiction of the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB).
At the very least, the illegal detention of Sheu by NYPD Detectives, during which Sheu alleged that he was abducted against his will, his wallet confiscated, his documents photocopied and that he was threatened with death, is the ultimate example of “stop and frisk”; one of the “systemic” issues that the OIG is specifically mandated to investigate.
But it is the failure of the Police Commissioner to order an investigation of a death ruled as undetermined by the M.E. that makes this case “systemic” prima face. The decision to not investigate a death ruled “undetermined” cannot possibly be the act of an individual officer, especially when two consecutive NYPD Commissioners were informed of the M.E's ruling and specifically told that they must investigate under law. The decision to not investigate a death ruled “undetermined” they depend on the police to investigate by the Medical Examiner, is a matter of “policy and procedure”, and a crime.
According to John Fudenberg, former President of the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, “If a Medical Examiner has a case of “blunt force Trauma to the head, and they can’t tell if it’s a from a strike or a fall, they should and do depend on the police to attempt to get them more information… Homicide Detectives and Medical Legal Professionals are trained to treat every death as a homicide until they can prove otherwise, but especially if there is any indication that it might have actually been a homicide”.
THE OIG REFERS THE CASE TO THE NYPD INTERNAL AFFAIRS BUREAU, BUT WITHOLDS CRITICAL INFORMATION FROM THEM
A letter dated April 14th, 2015 from Thomas Mahoney of the OIG, states: “We have completed our preliminary investigation of your complaint... With respect to your specific concerns regarding the death of Mr. Sheu... Given the content of your July 23rd [sic] complaint [originally sent to Eure on July 19, and dated as such] , we believe that the NYPD internal affairs Bureau (IAB) would be an appropriate investigative agency... therefore we will forward IAB a copy of your complaint so that they may review the matter further”.
Mahoney's letter certainly implies that it was the July 19 complaint that was sent to the IAB for further review, but incredibly, according to a source at the IAB, the “complaint” that the OIG sent them was not the July 19 complaint. Our source, who examined the entire file transferred from the OIG reported that the only document provided to the IAB by the OIG was the May 12 letter to Contes. He stated: “... April 8th, that's when they sent the letter.... The only [complaint] they sent was [the email from] May 12th, it was basically your correspondence with Mr. Contes. That's it'. He further confirmed that the July 19 letter was not provided by the OIG. This sleight of hand by Mahoney raises the question of whether the May 12th letter may have been altered.
Why did Mahoney send the wrong letter to the IAB and lie about it to the BSN? Perhaps because the difference between the May 12 letter and the July 19 letter is critical to the jurisdiction of the case. The hijacking and burying of the case by the DOI/NYPD squad is detailed in the July letter but absent in the May letter, because it had not yet occurred . The OIG/NYPD Squad's fraudulent “investigation” not only adds to the long list of NYPD officers complicit in the cover up, it further establishes that the case is systemic, and therefore under the exclusive jurisdiction of the OIG.
Our source at the IAB also revealed that the dossier sent to the IAB by the OIG indicated that the OIG had done no investigation on the case, because no results of any investigation were included in the dossier. “I don't think [the OIG] did any investigation into it” she noted.
This means that either the OIG did no investigation whatsoever on the case, or they withheld the results of their investigation from the IAB when they transferred the case to them. If they did no investigation, then on what basis did Rehman deny the FOIL requests based on “an ongoing law enforcement investigation”? And what were they doing for the nine months between receiving the complaint in July and sending to the IAB in April?
Of course we know that Sanchez learned from the Medical Examiner that Sheu had suffered “lots of wounds” all over his body, and that this important fact was never provided to the IAB. What other findings of the nine-month OIG/NYPD “investigation” were concealed from the IAB?
What the DOI's FOIL responses tell us is that the NYPD/DOI Squad claimed to investigate, but did not (in order to bury the complaint) while the OIG actually did investigate, and then claimed that the did not, in order to keep their results from other agencies.
NYPP INTERNAL AFFAIRS SITS ON THE CASE FOR SIX MONTHS WITH NO INVESTIGATAION, THEN TRANFERS IT TO THE DETECTIVE BUREAU WHICH CLOSE IT IN A WEEK.
The NYPD IAB held the case for six months, and conducted no investigation, according to our source. On September 19, 2015, the IAB transferred the case to the NYPD Chief of Detectives Bureau. The sole detective delegated to investigate the case was Sgt. Anthony Bocola, a veteran NYPD cop sued in 2001 for punching a 13 year old dance student in the face.
Since September has only 30 days, this means that Bocola's investigation of the illegal detention/kidnapping, the death threats, the false statements of Dr. Ahmed, the unauthorized removal of the body by NYPD Detectives, the false witness” story sent to the Medical Examiner by Austin and Grant, the false reports given by Ardisano about the cause and manner of death, the unauthorized cremation of the body by a party falsely claiming to be the Executor of Sheu's estate, the violation of FOIL law by the NYPD and above all, the NYPD's failure to investigate a case ruled “undetermined” by the Medical Examiner for over five and a half years, was conducted in the maximum of one week.