With several incidents of alleged police brutality making headlines in recent months, it seems police in New York have come up with a new way to bolster their public image: By editing Wikipedia pages on alleged police brutality incidents and changing them to make them more favorable to the officers involved.
CapitalNewYork has tracked recent edits to Wikipedia pages for Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo — all of whom died at the hands of NYPD officers under controversial circumstances — to computers at the NYPD’s headquarters at 1 Police Plaza.
The edits were made to make the circumstances surrounding the shootings more favorable to the officers’ version of events.
In the case of Eric Garner, who died last year after an officer placed him in a chokehold that was prohibited by NYPD’s own rules, CaptialNewYork found the following changes were made:
“Garner raised both his arms in the air” was changed to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke.”
“[P]ush Garner’s face into the sidewalk” was changed to “push Garner’s head down into the sidewalk.”
“Use of the chokehold has been prohibited” was changed to “Use of the chokehold is legal, but has been prohibited.”
The sentence, “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them,” was added to the description of the incident.
Instances of the word “chokehold” were replaced twice, once to “chokehold or headlock,” and once to “respiratory distress.”
The police department tells CapitalNewYork that it’s investigating who, if anyone, in the NYPD made the edits.