The New York Police Department will not defend a 29-year veteran of the force being sued by Occupy Wall Street protesters, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The department’s rare move means Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna could be personally liable for damages that are awarded to Chelsea Elliott of Brooklyn and Jeanne Mansfield of Massachusetts, who sued him and the NYPD in February, as well as the city and other unidentified officers.
The suit accuses the city of not training its officers correctly, following an incident in September where Bologna was caught on video pepper-spraying several protesters who had seemingly already been contained behind orange plastic netting. The run-in became an early flashpoint in the Occupy movement.
In October, Bologna was stripped of 10 vacation days for “using pepper spray outside of department guidelines.” The women’s attorney, Aymen Aboushi, said the visibility it gained after being posted online was reflected in the NYPD’s distancing itself from Bologna.
“If it wasn’t on video, I think it would be another he said-she said case,” Aboushi said.
The NYPD Captains Endowment Association, of which Bologna is a member, will now cover the costs of his defense, but he is also asking the department to reverse its decision, according to his lawyer, Louis La Pietra.
“He wasn’t doing this as Anthony Bologna, mister,” La Pietra said. “He was doing this as Anthony Bologna, deputy inspector, NYPD.”
A New York University report last month blasted the NYPD for escalating tensions and harassing protesters, lawyers and journalists during the early Occupy protests in Zuccotti Park last November.
Watch NY1′s report on the NYPD’s decision, aired Friday, below: