According to sources, an NYPD officer was on the verge of losing his job after being accused of engaging in sexual activity with a witness in a carjacking case he investigated. However, Police Commissioner Edward Caban intervened and saved the officer’s career from termination. The incident was brought to light, and the officer’s future with the department was in jeopardy until Caban’s involvement.
According to a recently released disciplinary report by the NYPD, Police Officer Willie Thompson was accused of engaging in “prohibitive conduct” and making false statements. The accusation came to light after it was discovered that Thompson had been involved in a sexual relationship with a woman who witnessed a carjacking incident in Washington Heights on May 23, 2021.
Jeff Adler, the Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Trials at NYPD headquarters, concluded in writing after a disciplinary hearing that Thompson should be terminated from their position.
Instead of following the recommended course of action, Caban decided to impose disciplinary probation on the 15-year veteran of the NYPD. This probationary period would result in immediate termination if the officer is found guilty of any misconduct within the next year.
In his decision, Caban expressed that although the misconduct deserved a severe penalty, it was not necessary for the individual to be separated from the department. Caban approved of the findings, but did not agree with the imposed penalty.
According to the disciplinary report, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had arrested two men for the carjacking incident and had taken charge of the case. However, prosecutors soon discovered that Thompson had some sort of relationship with a witness involved in the case. As a result, the case had to be reassigned.
Thompson went to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office in July 2021 with the witness to discuss a domestic violence case that was not related to the carjacking.
According to the report, Assistant District Attorney Yuval Simchi-Levi observed the two individuals in the office engaging in flirtatious behavior, sharing laughter and whispers, and showing each other messages on their phones.
Over the course of the following three months, the relationship between the parties involved began to deteriorate, as later discovered by prosecutors.
During the disciplinary trial, Simchi-Levi, the prosecutor, testified that Thompson and the witness were scheduled to meet with him on September 14, 2021, to discuss the carjacking case. However, Thompson informed Simchi-Levi that she would not be attending the meeting. According to the report, the officer also cautioned the prosecutor that the witness had a tendency to exaggerate things.
During the morning, Simchi-Levi received a text message from the witness, which stated that Thompson was being described as “manipulative” and had committed an act that was not within his authority.
Upon contacting the witness, the ADA discovered that she had engaged in a sexual relationship with Thompson. Apparently, the two had met during their initial encounter at the Manhattan DA’s office and subsequently went on multiple dates.
According to the report, Thompson had children with a woman whom he was involved with. However, when they separated, the woman told the ADA that Thompson cautioned her against disclosing their relationship, stating that no one would believe her.
Simchi-Levi contacted Thompson to get his perspective on the situation, and Thompson initially denied any relationship. However, the following day, Thompson reached out to the ADA and confessed to being involved in the relationship, as reported.
The witness alleged that Thompson had cornered her in a bodega close to her residence and threatened her by stating, “this was all happening because of you.” The Internal Affairs Bureau was brought into the matter to investigate further.
According to the woman’s statement, the individual threatened her by saying that she was under investigation and that officers from the precinct would be coming to her house to speak with her.
Although Thompson admitted to engaging in a sexual relationship with a witness during his investigation, he refuted the allegation of threatening the woman.
In his disciplinary trial, Thompson downplayed the significance of his relationship with his lover, referring to them as a “peripheral witness” whom he did not consider helpful for the criminal trial, according to the report.
During the trial, Thompson, who is originally from Long Island, testified that it was actually the witness who initiated the interaction and invited him to “hang out”. He also revealed that when ADA Simchi-Levi initially asked him over the phone if he was involved in a sexual relationship with the witness, he denied it because he was in the presence of his girlfriend and children.
During the disciplinary hearing, Adler found Thompson guilty of threatening the witness. However, he cleared Thompson of making a false claim as he had acknowledged his relationship with the witness the very next day.
According to reports, the attorneys representing the carjacking suspects were notified by Manhattan prosecutors about Thompson’s involvement with the witness. The suspects were being held on Rikers Island and faced high bail. The defense attorneys requested a reduction in bail due to Thompson’s misconduct, but their application was denied.
In the end, the accused individuals admitted to committing the offense but were found guilty of lesser charges.
Adler, in his ruling, deemed Thompson’s conduct as “extremely concerning” and stated that it had a negative impact on the reputation and honesty of the department.
In a scathing rebuke, Adler wrote that Thompson’s reprehensible behavior not only caused harm to the victim but also negatively affected a pending armed robbery prosecution. The officer’s decision to engage in sexual encounters with a witness showed a complete lack of judgment and has irreversibly damaged his ability to handle police investigations. Thompson’s conduct was nothing short of egregious, and the consequences of his actions will have far-reaching impacts on his future career prospects.
We were unable to get a comment from Thompson despite our efforts.
According to an individual familiar with the matter, Adler’s insistence on being terminated came as a surprise.
According to a source familiar with the matter, the department receives numerous complaints of this nature. However, the source cannot recall a department judge ever calling for termination as a result of such complaints.
Caban has been drawing attention for his approach to recommended penalties against police officers accused of misconduct, much like former Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell before him.
In 2016, Sgt. Hugh Barry fatally shot an emotionally disturbed woman in her Bronx apartment. Four months prior to reversing Officer Thompson’s decision, Caban modified the penalty that was suggested for Barry.
Despite being acquitted in a criminal trial, Barry was found guilty by NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado in an administrative proceeding. She concluded that he had exercised poor tactical judgment and had initiated the killing, and subsequently recommended his termination.
In all disciplinary matters, Caban holds the ultimate authority. While he concurred with Maldonado’s recommendation, he did modify the penalty. As a result, Barry was permitted to resign after serving a 30-day suspension. This move will enable him to eventually collect his pension.