A curious practice of the New York Police Department is receiving scrutiny: Accident victims are routinely investigated for outstanding warrants, and are handcuffed to their hospital beds if they are guilty of as little as an unpaid $25 fine.
Andre Daly, a 29-year-old New Yorker, recently woke up at a Brooklyn hospital after being shot. He was handcuffed to the bed. An officer was standing over him, and wanted to ask him questions — not about whoever shot him, but about his unpaid $25 fine for possessing a cup of wine in public, according to The New York Times.
“He’s telling me now I’m a prisoner of New York City because I have a warrant,” said Daly in a statement regarding the occurrence.
A spokesperson for NYPD said the practice is intended to prevent possibly violent criminals from ending up unshackled inside hospitals.
“We’re not handcuffing him by virtue of him being a victim,” said Stephen Davis, a spokesperson for NYPD, in a statement. “But if he has a warrant, it would require him to be in our custody. When someone is shot, and when they go to investigate, they will run him for warrants.”
Shackling perpetrators of very minor crimes, like drinking in public, is cause for concern, said one criminal defense lawyer.
“It’s particularly egregious where they have minor offenses,” said Seymour W. James Jr., who represents hospitalized prisoners, in a statement. “They consider everybody who has a warrant a fugitive.”
Some doctors say that handcuffing hospital patients is medically unsound. Lequint Singleton, a shooting victim with outstanding warrants for disorderly conduct and possessing an open container of alcohol, told the Times that he had to wait to undergo surgery for internal bleeding while his doctor argued with a police officer about whether the cuffs should come off.
NYPD is reviewing the policy.