Inside Internal Affairs A Suffolk officer sexually abused a prisoner. His partner was never punished for breaking rules meant to protect her.
Content warning: This story contains descriptions of sexual assault.
After internal affairs investigators found that Suffolk County Police Officer Mark Pav violated department regulations in the arrest of a woman in Wyandanch, a supervisor concluded the 10-year veteran “readily accepted responsibility for taking shortcuts” and could be an asset by showing “how precarious it can be to unnecessarily deviate from routine procedures.”
With that, police last year closed the disciplinary book on the rule-breaking that Pav’s partner, Christopher McCoy, exploited to sexually assault their prisoner twice inside the First Precinct building in West Babylon in 2017.
The two officers investigated the young mother without apparent cause during a questionable traffic stop, arrested her for noncriminal warrants and did not file numerous mandatory reports that document the legal basis for police actions and track the people in their custody.
Critically, Pav failed to accurately observe and log the woman’s well-being, as required, during the period of time McCoy forced oral sex on her in a closed interview room that was not equipped with cameras.
The department’s “Prisoner Activity Log” directs officers to list “all movement of prisoner[s] both within and outside precinct … includ[ing] transports to hospital, court, interrogations and not[ing] physical condition upon return.”
Pav made 13 entries on the woman’s log, nine of them fabricated — including that she sat in an open holding area or was being stripped-searched by a female officer in the period McCoy violated her.
Ultimately, McCoy resigned, pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor of depriving the woman of her civil rights and served a year in prison.
Pav told investigators that he had no knowledge of McCoy’s crime even as he admitted that he had falsified the prisoner log. He said he was forced to backfill the document after McCoy left it incomplete.
Criminal law experts said Pav’s actions still could have been grounds for prosecution under New York’s Penal Law.
“I think a prosecutor should really consider bringing criminal charges” in such cases, said Cheryl Bader, a Fordham University School of Law associate clinical professor of law and former federal prosecutor, after Newsday detailed the incident for her.
She said that Pav’s fabrications may have qualified as a misdemeanor under a law that bars knowingly falsifying an official record, known as “offering a false instrument for filing,” even without proof that he did it to cover up for McCoy.
“A jury would be outraged by this,” Bader said.
But judging Pav’s conduct fell only to Suffolk police’s Internal Affairs Bureau. While concluding that he had violated four departmental rules and procedures, IAB absolved him of more serious misconduct and missed an 18-month deadline for filing charges that can lead to discipline.
As a result, Pav, 36, escaped any penalties as a result of his violations. His total compensation was almost $230,000 last year, county payroll records show.
The outcome for him and for the woman — previously a rape victim — fits a pattern uncovered by Newsday in an investigation of how police on Long Island police themselves:
Operating in virtual secrecy, the internal affairs systems of the Nassau and Suffolk police departments have allowed officers to escape punishment even where their wrongdoing was part of an incident involving death or serious harm.
In this case, the woman said she believes McCoy was prosecuted only because she had made sure to retain incontrovertible proof of what he had done — and that Suffolk police evaded holding a wider circle of officers accountable for the lax supervision and record-keeping failures that enabled McCoy to victimize her.
“Everyone’s walking past this room, this guy’s in here with this woman by himself for extended periods of time, and he keeps bringing her back there,” the woman, now 35, said in a recent interview with Newsday. “No one’s looking at that.
“They’re comfortable for a reason. This is a group effort.”
‘Whatever … I needed to do to survive.’ The woman describes her trauma.Watch and Read
‘I felt like an animal trapped in a cage’
After a nearly 13-month Freedom of Information Law push, Suffolk police in July provided Newsday with a partially redacted report of its IAB investigation into McCoy and Pav’s actions. This story is based on that report, summaries of interviews conducted by FBI agents as they criminally investigated McCoy in 2017, and on Pav’s testimony last year in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the woman against McCoy, Pav and Suffolk County.
It is also drawn from the Newsday interviews over recent months with the woman, whose identity the paper is withholding because she is a sexual assault victim.
Together, the range of newly reported documents, most of which were filed as lawsuit exhibits earlier this year, reveal that the partners’ failure to properly document the woman’s arrest, detention and monitoring made her a virtual ghost in a system designed both to safeguard the public and to protect officers from false accusations.
Pav and McCoy created no written record, for example, that they ever brought her to the interview room, where, according to investigators, McCoy stood with his back against a closed door and forced her into the sex acts. Designated by state law as a place to speak with juveniles, the small room has no window to the adjacent precinct hallway.
“I felt like an animal trapped in a cage,” the woman told Newsday, sitting inside a conference room at the Patchogue office of attorney Brian T. Egan, who is representing her along with Michael J. Brown of Central Islip.
A former salon worker and taxi driver whose daughter was 13 at the time, the woman said she was determined to report McCoy’s crimes, even as she stayed fearfully silent for the remainder of almost 24 hours in police custody, surrounded by the officer’s colleagues. She said she was driven by memories of the unpunished rape more than a decade prior.
Long Island’s two major police departments are among the largest local law enforcement agencies in the United States. Protecting and serving, the Nassau and Suffolk County police departments are key to the quality of life on the Island – as well as the quality of justice. They have the dual missions of enforcing the law and of holding accountable those officers who engage in misconduct.
Each mission is essential.
Newsday today publishes the first in a series of case histories under the heading of Inside Internal Affairs. Planned for publication over the coming weeks, the stories will be tied by a common thread: Cloaked in secrecy by law, the systems for policing the police in both counties imposed no, or little, penalties on officers in cases involving serious injuries or deaths.
This opening piece explains how a former Suffolk county police officer was able to sexually assault a woman twice inside a precinct building after arresting her in 2017 on minor charges, which were later dismissed.
In carrying out the assaults, the officer exploited his partner’s failure to follow safety protocols designed to safeguard detainees. The officer resigned and was convicted and imprisoned based on DNA evidence collected by the woman. His partner escaped penalty, despite admitting that he had falsified a log that was supposed to track the woman’s well-being. He denied knowledge of the assaults and remains on the Suffolk force.
Newsday has long been committed to covering the Island’s police departments, from valor that is often taken for granted to faults that have been kept from view under a law that barred release of police disciplinary records.
Last year, propelled by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the New York legislature and former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo repealed the secrecy law, known as 50-a, and enacted provisions aimed at opening disciplinary files to public scrutiny.
Newsday then asked the Nassau and Suffolk departments to provide records ranging from information contained in databases that track citizen complaints to documents generated during internal investigations of selected high-profile cases. Newsday invoked the state’s Freedom of Information law as mandating release of the records.
The Nassau police department responded that the same statute still barred release of virtually all information. Suffolk’s department delayed for a year before asserting that the law required it to produce records only in cases where charges were substantiated against officers.
Hoping to establish that the new statute did, in fact, make police disciplinary broadly available to the public, Newsday filed court actions against both departments. A Nassau state Supreme Court justice last month upheld continued secrecy, as urged by Nassau’s department. Newsday plans an appeal. Its Suffolk lawsuit is pending.
Under the continuing confidentiality, reporters Paul LaRocco, Sandra Peddie and David M. Schwartz devoted 18 months to investigating the inner workings of the Nassau and Suffolk police department internal affairs bureaus.
Federal lawsuits waged by people who alleged police abuses proved to be a valuable starting point. These court actions required Nassau and Suffolk to produce documents rarely seen outside the two departments. In some of the suits, judges sealed the records; in others, the standard transparency of the courts made public thousands of pages drawn from the departments’ internal files.
The papers provided a guide toward confirming events and understanding why the counties had settled claims, sometimes for millions of dollars. Interviews with those who had been injured and loved ones of those who had been killed helped complete the forthcoming case histories and provided an unprecedented look Inside Internal Affairs.
– Deborah Henley, Editor
“Even though I was very upset and felt broken, I was extremely angry,” she said. “I just knew when it happened, as soon as it was done, I wasn’t going to let him get away with it.”
McCoy and William Petrillo, a Garden City attorney who represented him in his criminal proceeding, declined to comment for this story.
Pav did not respond to an interview request. Anthony LaPinta, a Hauppauge attorney who represented the officer during his cooperation with the FBI’s criminal probe of McCoy, wrote in an emailed statement that Pav “is a hard-working, devoted and well-respected police officer who has proudly served the residents of Suffolk County” for nearly 12 years.
“Officer Pav has taken full responsibility for his record-keeping errors,” LaPinta wrote. “However, these mistakes were not, in any way, related to Christopher McCoy’s criminal conduct.”
The Suffolk County Police Department declined a request to interview Acting Commissioner Stuart Cameron about the case.
When McCoy, 43, of Sayville, was criminally charged, then-police Commissioner Tim Sini, now the outgoing Suffolk district attorney, announced that the department would install video cameras in all precinct interview rooms. Sini’s office referred a request for comment to the police department.
In an emailed statement, the department said it couldn’t answer a range of questions about the case because of the woman’s ongoing civil lawsuit, which seeks more than $40 million in damages and legal fees from Suffolk County. But it did confirm that “all precincts now have interrogation rooms equipped with video monitoring capability. These systems allow for interviews to be recorded and viewed remotely from various locations, including police headquarters.”
Before the crime, McCoy had been a Suffolk police officer for 10 years.
Pav and McCoy served in a roving cadre of First Precinct officers called the Community Support Unit, which — when not assigned to special events such as parades and funerals — could proactively patrol anywhere within Babylon Town. Pav had joined Suffolk police in 2010, after a few years as a Nassau corrections officer. McCoy had briefly served in the NYPD before transferring to Suffolk in 2007.
Partners for about six months, the two men spent nearly every hour of their shifts together leading up to the morning of March 16, 2017.
According to the FBI interview summaries, Pav told agents that McCoy “frequently discussed” how he used pornography for self-gratification and attempted to look up, on social media, “attractive women that he (McCoy) and Pav pulled over.”
That morning, with Pav driving, they focused on an area off Straight Path in Wyandanch, a hamlet that is about 60% Black. In his March 2020 lawsuit deposition, Pav said “there was no thought behind” why they chose the area.
Then living in a shelter in Port Jefferson Station, 20 miles away, the woman had been picked up by a male friend and came to Wyandanch planning to visit her stepmother. They stopped at a delicatessen for breakfast sandwiches, she said, got into the friend’s black sedan and drove away, with her friend at the wheel.
The officers, she said, immediately turned on their patrol car’s lights.
At around 10:30 a.m. Pav and McCoy stopped the car, near the corner of Arlington Avenue and Doe Street. Police are permitted to pull a car over if they witness a traffic violation or have reasonable grounds to suspect criminality.
“You’re telling us you pulled the vehicle over, but you don’t know why you pulled the vehicle over?” Pav was asked in the deposition.
“Correct,” he replied.
The woman said police often pulled over cars in Wyandanch without cause. She suspects racial profiling in her stop, saying the marked patrol car was stationed near the deli’s back parking lot, apparently waiting for someone to pull out. Pav and McCoy are white. The woman and her companion are Black.
“We’re so used to seeing this,” she said. “Nothing was wrong. We’re just two people going about our day. And so, it was their intent — whoever got caught in their web, they were going to be in for a bad day. It just happened to be me that day.”
John DeCarlo, director of the University of New Haven’s master’s program in criminal justice and a former Connecticut police chief who has studied racial profiling, said: “It is their job to have reasonable suspicion to make a stop. And if that can’t be articulated, then they are wrong. Even if it didn’t escalate into what it did escalate to.”
Under an agreement with the U.S. Justice Department aimed at curbing biased policing, Suffolk police officers are mandated to enter multiple details of all traffic stops into a so-called T-Stop computer in their cars.
Pav and McCoy reported the stop’s time and location but did not enter other required information, including a justification (the driver recalled to IAB that police told him he had rolled past a stop sign) or the names and races or ethnicities of the car’s occupants.
‘It makes me suspicious. Like, maybe it was a pretext stop…’Michael Alcazar, John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor
Again without any recorded legal grounds, such as suspecting she had engaged in criminal behavior, McCoy asked the woman for identification.
“It makes me suspicious. Like, maybe it was a pretext stop — maybe they spotted her” and thought, “‘She’s interesting. Let’s run her,'” said Michael Alcazar, an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and retired 30-year New York Police Department veteran who served as a lead instructor in the Detectives Bureau Training Unit.
After the woman handed over her ID, the partners discovered three warrants for noncriminal offenses. Two stemmed from driving without a license and the third involved occupying a housing unit that lacked a Babylon Town rental permit, according to paperwork filed by Pav and included in the IAB report.
McCoy ordered the woman to step out of the car and placed her under arrest, starting almost 24 hours in police custody. Pav released the driver without a summons.
“My friend had no reason to get pulled over,” the woman said, adding that he “never heard about this subject again. It’s just messed up my life.”
She said she believed, mistakenly, that she had satisfied the warrants and had documents to prove it in her purse. Pav and McCoy let her get the purse from the car — a step that violated safety protocols.
“The undersigned believes allowing a subject, who is not known to the arresting officers, and has knowledge of an impending arrest, (to) return to an occupied, unsearched vehicle, to retrieve an item from the floorboard … places the officers in a dangerous position,” lead IAB investigator Lt. Richard Senese wrote in his report last year.
Department procedures call for patting down arrested individuals for concealed weapons or contraband. The woman told the FBI that McCoy, as she stood outside the car, groped her breasts under the pretext of checking whether she had money in her bra. Pav has denied seeing McCoy search the woman.
‘I think he just had the perfect opportunity at the precinct to do whatever he wanted to flex his power.’
“When he went to search me, he was testing the waters, I think,” the woman said in the Newsday interview. “And I think he just had the perfect opportunity at the precinct to do whatever he wanted to flex his power.”
She recalled that Pav searched her purse on the scene without finding a small baggie of marijuana inside. She volunteered the information and faced an additional noncriminal possession charge. That and the traffic warrants were later dismissed.
Both officers failed to record any part of the encounter in their memo books, as required, again eliminating the woman’s identity — as well as the basis for the enforcement action taken against her — from another document that memorializes interactions between officers and civilians.
Pav and McCoy placed the woman, who was handcuffed, alone in the back seat of their patrol car — a second violation of departmental safety protocols. The car lacked steel fencing between the front and rear compartments. To prevent a possible attack from behind, regulations called for one officer to sit in the back while a prisoner sits in the front.
As required, the officers radioed that they were transporting the woman to the precinct.
Pav told FBI agents and testified that, while on the road, he and McCoy asked whether she would be willing to do undercover drug buys for them, an account that he also offered in explaining why she was later brought into the interview room where McCoy assaulted her.
“It’s something that we ask all arrestees,” as a potential springboard to larger investigations, Pav said in the deposition.
The woman said the officers never asked her to do undercover buys.
“That’s a lie,” she said of Pav’s account.
Pav described her as “giddy” during her initial detention. She said she suffered a panic attack in the patrol car.
“I started getting scared and nervous,” she recalled. “I was trying to hold it together.”
Isolated in the precinct building
At the First Precinct, the partners presented the woman to a desk sergeant, who clocked her appearance, and conducted a brief interview, at 11 a.m. At the top of her Prisoner Activity Log, the sergeant wrote that her physical condition “appears normal” and described her visible emotional condition as “calm.”
Pav gave contradictory statements to the FBI and in his interview with internal affairs — where an attorney and official from the Suffolk Police Benevolent Association joined him — as to whether he was present when the desk sergeant evaluated the woman. He soon went to his unit’s basement office to complete arrest paperwork and log the plastic baggie containing marijuana into evidence.
After going downstairs, Pav estimated in his deposition that he primarily stayed there for two to three hours, with McCoy joining for only intermittent periods. The IAB report notes:
“Pav was questioned about who was monitoring [the woman] during this time. Pav stated he did not know who was monitoring [her] and stated he never checked on [her] during this time.”
Separated from Pav, McCoy brought the woman to an area devoted to taking mug shots. It included a single-person cell with a bench and toilet.
“I didn’t have a mug shot taken, but yet he brought me there — and that’s where he felt me up and groped me again,” she said, alleging that McCoy placed his hands under her bra and between her legs.
“I think you liked it when I touched you out there,” she alleges he said.
McCoy then led the woman to the Uniform Squad Room, an area where arrestees are handcuffed to sections of a metal table. He shackled her and left, soon returning in a T-shirt, having removed his equipment, protective vest and outer uniform shirt.
He uncuffed the woman from the table and walked her down a hallway and into the interview room. By state law, the room was supposed to be reserved for speaking with juveniles. It had space for little more than a desk, chairs and a storage cabinet. Two vertical windows offered limited visibility from a secure parking lot outside. Closing the door, however, sealed it completely from view inside the precinct.
Initially, McCoy sat at the desk. The woman thought he was handling paperwork. He let her use her cellphone to make a call and send a message securing child care for her daughter. Then he stood, told her to get up and directed her to place her hands behind her back. She expected to be handcuffed again.
‘My choice was to either put my life in danger and tell him, “No,” or just to do it and live to tell somebody.’
Standing behind her, McCoy pushed his crotch against her open palm, and asked, “Did you feel that?” the woman reported to the FBI.
In silent panic, she looked away and shook her head. She recalled that he unzipped, turned her around, made her touch him and then pushed her head down, grabbing her by the jaw, where she had just had oral surgery. In silent pain, she complied.
“My choice was to either put my life in danger and tell him, ‘No,’ or just to do it and live to tell somebody,” the woman said to Newsday. “Maybe it wouldn’t have gone as extreme as not living, but I didn’t know that.”
McCoy stopped suddenly, FBI agents wrote after interviewing the woman. She said she believed he heard someone outside the door.
“He got nervous even though the door was closed,” she said in the Newsday interview.
McCoy put a finger to his mouth, as to “shh” her, she said.
He walked her back to the holding area and handcuffed her again to a table. He made an entry in the prisoner activity log indicating that she had called a phone number at 11:25. It was the only entry he would make.
Out of fear, the woman said nothing of what just happened in the interview room. McCoy had groped her twice in full view, she charged, once at the car with Pav just steps away, and once in the mug-shot area. She concluded that McCoy’s fellow cops had to know what was going on.
“I was in a precinct. I couldn’t trust anybody. It was horrible,” she recalled to Newsday, breaking into tears. “I should have been able to have at least one person that I could have depended on and I couldn’t.”
Pav and McCoy ate lunch with two fellow officers in the precinct basement. The FBI pegged the time at 12:30 or 12:45 p.m. Police offered the woman no food until 7 p.m. that night, her prisoner activity log shows.
Sometime around 1:30 or 1:40 p.m., a female officer belatedly was asked to escort the woman to a bathroom and subject her to a strip-search, a procedure typically done on arrival at the precinct. The officer returned her to McCoy’s custody, she told the FBI.
‘Made me do it again’
Shortly before 2 p.m., according to agents, Pav said he and McCoy walked the woman into the juvenile interview room again. Pav testified and told internal affairs, however, that McCoy escorted her alone and that he met them inside the room.
There, the partners concluded that “she was not a particularly good candidate” for making undercover buys in Wyandanch because, unable to drive, she would have to take multiple buses and a train to reach the area, FBI agents wrote in summarizing one of their interviews with Pav.
Testifying in the lawsuit, Pav said he stayed in the interview room for “around 10 minutes, if not less.” The woman recalls that he announced to McCoy that it was almost 2 p.m. — when they were scheduled to meet narcotics officers to discuss an impending operation.
“Was McCoy supposed to join you?” Pav was asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Did he leave with you?”
“He was wrapping up the debrief.”
When the FBI interviewed McCoy in April 2017 — visiting unannounced at his home — for its criminal investigation, he told a similar story: The woman “had agreed to work” for them “by purchasing marijuana” and they had “entered the [interview] room to discuss possible cooperation,” according to an FBI summary. He estimated that Pav left after about 20 minutes.
The woman recalls that the actual questions were “literally maybe 10 seconds.” She said she was asked if she knew who was selling drugs in Wyandanch, to which she answered no.
Pav left the woman alone with McCoy.
That’s when “he … made me do it again,” she recalled.
McCoy stood with his back to the closed door, ordered her to stand, opened his pants and forced her head to his crotch.
“Don’t make this hard,” she said he told her.
‘That’s a threat. That’s telling me, “I just need to stay alive to have a story to tell.”’
“That’s a threat,” the woman said in the Newsday interview. “That’s telling me, ‘I just need to stay alive to have a story to tell.'”
She complied again.
This time he finished, told her to fix her hair and clean herself up. Knowing he was watching her, the woman said she turned her head slightly and spit, not into the tissue he’d given her but onto her lavender sweater.
“I let it hit my shirt instead, just to make sure that there is some kind of proof that this happened,” she said, adding, “No one was going to believe me over him.”
FBI agents wrote that the woman “wanted to ensure she was not put in the same situation of not having proof she was assaulted.”
She later told Newsday that she was the victim of a drugging and date rape when she was 19. She waited more than 24 hours to report the crime, saying she was scared and had to be pressured by a friend. By then, she had showered and “destroyed a lot of my own evidence.” When the man stated that she had consented to sex, she said, the police essentially accepted his word.
‘I had to act like everything was fine’
Back in the holding area, McCoy got a phone call and said he was “coming out now,” the woman reported. Pav told the FBI that McCoy replied with a text message: “what’s up.”
Pav texted back: “uniform,” a reference that the narcotics detail they were planning to aid required the officers to wear full uniforms.
McCoy responded, “ok, on my way.”
The FBI reported that McCoy joined Pav at the narcotics meeting but begged off the operation. He ended his shift by 3 p.m. to go to an appointment.
The woman stayed silent in the holding area.
“I had to act like everything was fine, because I was surrounded by people that obviously knew what was going on,” she said. “They gave the man his privacy.”
A little while later, Pav returned from the narcotics operation. The woman told the FBI that she asked him whether McCoy was married.
“Why, do you think he’s handsome? Want some white chocolate?” she said he answered, reinforcing her belief that the precinct was a hostile territory.
Pav told the FBI and IAB that he did not recall making the comment. In his deposition, he said, “I might of, I might not of,” before asserting that he didn’t use that phrase.
The narcotics operation had produced another marijuana bust, of a woman taken into custody under circumstances that resembled the assault victim’s arrest.
In a text message that lacked correct grammar and punctuation, Pav told his off-duty partner that officers had stopped “some kid from Bayshore [sic]” who was with a “female pass,” or passenger.
This woman, Pav said, “had warrant so we took her and [the] weed.” He used a vulgarity for female genitalia to describe where the officers had found the drugs.
“Nice, what are the names?” McCoy asked, seeking the arrestees’ identities.
Pav sent the names. He testified that McCoy responded with an image of the arrested woman, culled from social media.
“I know he has looked up people on social media because when I sent out the name … of the arrest, he sent me a picture of her, I guess, Instagram or whatever her social media was, and asked me if that was the person,” Pav said in his deposition. “So, I’ve known him to search people on public social media.”
Still, Pav told the FBI that he never felt alarmed by McCoy’s behavior. He asserted the same thing in his deposition regarding the totality of his partner’s behavior — also including the frequent talk of pornography and self-gratification.
“Did you feel that you had any obligation to report that type of conduct to a supervisor?” he was asked.
“No,” Pav said.
Q. Each one of those are fabricated entries?
Pav, speaking during his 2020 deposition about the woman’s prisoner log
Regulations required Pav or McCoy to submit the prisoner activity log to the desk officer before leaving for the day. But when Pav came back to the precinct in the early evening, he said it was blank after McCoy’s entry at 11:25 that morning.
By text, McCoy had instructed Pav to record that the woman had been strip-searched at 1:30 p.m.
Instead, Pav placed it at 2 p.m., indicating that the woman was under control of a female officer around the time McCoy committed the second assault. During his deposition, Pav could not explain why he chose that time.
All told, the nine entries Pav admitted in his deposition to fabricating covered a period from 11:55 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., entries falsely reporting that he had personally observed the woman safely “sitting” or being “searched” in real time.
“Pav stated the Log should have reflected any movement of [the woman], to include when [she] was taken into the Juvenile Room,” FBI agents wrote in a summary of an interview done under a “proffer” agreement that barred Pav’s statements from being used against him in a potential criminal proceeding.
At the time, the federal probe focused on McCoy.
Under New York’s Penal Law, however, it is a misdemeanor to knowingly file a false public record, or offering a false instrument for filing. It is a felony to do so with the specific intent to defraud.
The misdemeanor law “certainly can capture the conduct here because prosecutors can establish that Pav knew that (the Prisoner Activity Log) was false,” said Bader, the Fordham law professor and former federal prosecutor, adding, “I think offering a false instrument does apply and it’s certainly not a stretch here.”
Rebecca Roiphe, a New York Law School professor and former Manhattan assistant district attorney, said Pav’s action may not have warranted prosecution even though it appeared to violate the law.
“I can see why people could be really frustrated and thinking that these kinds of crimes [by McCoy] could be easier to do when you have an accomplice like that, somebody who’s sitting around willing to cover up for you,” she said.
“And that’s absolutely 100% true, but whether that person faces criminal liability really does rest on whether he’s just being an unquestioning, good friend, or whether he actually suspects that there’s something bad going on.”
Using the language of the Penal Law, Brown, one of the woman’s civil attorneys, asked Pav in his deposition what it meant to “offer a false instrument for filing.”
“I have no idea,” he answered, while describing his failure to record the woman’s presence in the interview room as “an oversight.”
He did, however, answer affirmatively when asked directly if many of his entries were “fictitious” or “fabricated.”
Asked why he didn’t note that the victim was brought to the juvenile interrogation room when he knew she had been there, Pav said:
“I was in a rush — like I said, I was on overtime — just to fill out the form to be able to hand it off to the desk crew, which should have been done prior.”
Around 6 p.m., police transported the woman to the Fourth Precinct in Smithtown, where female arrestees are held overnight. Planning to report the assaults, she told a new shift of officers that she needed to go to a hospital because she was having a panic attack. The officers denied her request, she said.
Arraigned and released in the morning, the woman called a rape crisis hotline, stopping short after speaking to someone who identified himself as a former police officer. Instead, advised by her father, she contacted a law firm that called in the FBI rather than Suffolk law enforcement.
McCoy then started texting her, eventually sending nine messages over three days, from March 19 to 21. In one, he wrote, “I have to return a favor ;)” and identified himself by saying “I put you in handcuffs … remember now?”, followed by a police officer emoji.
On April 6, 2017, FBI agents knocked on McCoy’s door. He initially denied having any sexual contact with the woman. Shown a photo of her lavender sweater and asked why his DNA would be present, he paced outside his home and made comments such as “I’m going to lose my job, my kids,” according to the FBI summary.
He then admitted the oral sex act, at first claiming it was consensual.
The department immediately suspended McCoy without pay, charged him with misconduct and opened the internal affairs investigation.
Internal affairs now had 18 months to also charge Pav, if they wanted to impose discipline upon substantiation.
Federal prosecutors, however, asked IAB to postpone investigating the incident to avoid interfering with their criminal probe of McCoy. Following common practice, the bureau agreed to wait.
Armed with the woman’s testimony and evidence including the text messages, McCoy and Pav’s statements and the lavender sweater, prosecutors in the Eastern District criminally charged McCoy in July 2017. The single count of a felony civil rights violation carried a minimum sentence of seven years in prison.
IAB now had 15 months to also internally charge Pav. Although the FBI probe had already led to McCoy’s arrest — and Pav was not a criminal target — the Internal Affairs Bureau still failed to act. According to available records, it neither sought permission from prosecutors to investigate him nor stopped the clock from running by simply filling a preliminary charge based on any information they already had.
“Due to the delay, the statute of limitations expired pertaining to internal discipline,” Suffolk police said in a statement to Newsday, referring to its requested waiting out of the criminal case.
Pav blamed much of this on McCoy and took very little responsibility.Suffolk police IAB investigator, summarizing Pav’s responses about prisoner log entries
In contrast, the NYPD took steps to preserve disciplinary rights during its investigation into the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island in 2014, which was delayed by an even-lengthier federal criminal probe.
The NYPD fired Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who killed Garner, a full five years later, after the Justice Department finally declined to proceed with criminal charges. The department proved at an internal trial that the officer’s conduct could have constituted a crime — a standard that permits discipline even if charges hadn’t been filed within the 18-month limit.
And with Justice Department permission, the NYPD also internally charged a sergeant on the scene with failing to supervise Pantaleo. Filed just days before the 18-month window closed, the charge preserved the department’s ability to investigate and discipline the sergeant for a noncriminal violation, after the federal probe was completed. She lost 20 vacation days as a penalty.
The deadline for action against Pav that would have preserved potential discipline had passed by four days when McCoy pleaded guilty in the criminal case.
“She felt she did not have a choice,” McCoy told a federal judge in October 2018 in describing the sex act he compelled from the woman, as he admitted a reduced count: misdemeanor deprivation of civil rights under color of law.
It was only after McCoy was sentenced in July 2019, nine months later, that IAB started its investigation in earnest. Eight months after that, the bureau recommended substantiating the now-moot criminal misconduct charge against McCoy as well as four rules and procedures violations against both Pav and McCoy.
Those were: failing to record the traffic stop data; improperly transporting the woman in the patrol car; failing to document her debriefing; and failing to correctly fill out the prisoner log.
In February of last year, IAB Capt. David Lawler summarized the case in a letter to Deputy Insp. Alexander J. Crawford, the bureau’s executive officer.
“PO Pav had no part in PO McCoy’s criminal conduct,” Lawler wrote in one section, and “he also denied knowledge of PO McCoy’s criminal conduct.” He characterized the falsified log as “neglected … timely arrest log entries.”
Crawford responded in a handwritten note: “Concur — Respectfully recommend that PO Pav be counseled regarding R&P violations.”
Internal affairs sent a two-page description of the case to Pav’s superiors. Deputy Insp. Brendan Forte, the First Precinct’s executive officer, conducted the recommended counseling in May 2020, after which he wrote to the precinct commander that Pav “readily accepted responsibility” for taking the “shortcuts.”
Seven months earlier, Senese, the IAB’s lead investigator, had sized up Pav differently. Senese wrote that he had been “unable to solicit specific or detailed information” from Pav. Referring to the prisoner log, the investigator also wrote: “Pav blamed much of this on McCoy and took very little responsibility.”
The summary provided to Forte hadn’t included that portion of Senese’s report.
‘It just seems like they have their own set of laws.’
McCoy served a year in prison and was released last October. He is barred from serving as a police officer again. Although he was a Clemson University graduate with a degree in financial management, McCoy’s family said at his 2019 sentencing that he had been working as a laborer.
His victim, who did not speak at the sentencing, said that the plea bargain that reduced the charge against McCoy from a felony to a misdemeanor left her in a “weird place.”
“I am actually in shock that they even did anything. I feel like they had enough evidence to do more,” she said to Newsday. “But at the same time, I’ve come to learn that things just seem a little bit easier for cops. It just seems like they have their own set of laws.”
Suffolk has refused to represent McCoy in the woman’s lawsuit. He defaulted, meaning he is not mounting a defense. The county attorney’s office, however, has moved to dismiss her accusations that police department “failures in supervision” had “made such a tragic event inevitable.”
In defending itself and Pav, Suffolk argued in an April filing that the victim “has no proof that any claimed deficiencies were the result of deliberate indifference on the part of County policy makers to a known risk of constitutional violations.” Suffolk also argues that there is no proof of a “tacit collaboration” between Pav and McCoy.
“At best, the back-filling of the [prisoner] log creates an inference that Pav was aware, after the fact, that McCoy abused the plaintiff,” wrote Assistant County Attorney Brian Mitchell.
Alcazar, the John Jay professor with experience in police training, said the officers’ behavior also reflects poorly on their superiors, none of whom were disciplined, despite having failed to closely supervise the actions of Pav and McCoy, including not requiring them to fill out memo books or check on their arrestee’s well-being.
“A lot of procedures were not followed here,” Alcazar said. “It always falls on lack of supervision. It’s what creates this climate, where police officers feel they can do whatever they want. Nobody’s watching, and that falls on the department.”
Asked about Pav’s escape from discipline, the woman said that punishing him — not to mention the supervisors or the officers that refused her request to go to the hospital — would have forced a broader look at the responsibility of “everyone that was in the precinct in that shift.”
“If they held more than one officer accountable for this, then they’d have to admit that it was them.”
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