A federal jury returned a verdict on behalf of four New York City police officers accused of falsely arresting a man on drug charges, rejecting the man’s claim that he was detained so that the officers could earn overtime pay. The verdict in the case of Hector Cordero, 59, foreclosed the possibility of a broad judicial examination of the practice, known for decades as “collars for dollars,” the New York Times reports. Cordero was arrested in 2014 on charges of selling two Ziploc bags of crack outside the bodega where he worked as a cashier. When the police took Cordero into custody, they found no drugs or drug paraphernalia and the charges were dismissed within five months.
Cordero sued the officers, claiming they had concocted the grounds of his arrest and put him in a holding cell for no other reason than to justify filing for 22 hours of overtime. U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein in Brooklyn had ruled that if any of the officers were found liable, a second trial would be held to determine what the city knew about the practice and what, if anything, it had done to prevent it. The city filed sealed records about the use and abuse of police overtime in the years leading up to Cordero’s arrest. Given the verdict, it remains uncertain if those records will ever be made public. The officers on trial belong to one of the city’s elite antidrug teams, known as the special narcotics enforcement units, and the courtroom testimony gave a glimpse into their operations.