A pair of New York police officers that edited Wikipedia entries on alleged police brutality are likely to receive only minor reprimands, claims a new report from DNA Info. The New York Police Department identified the officers after a story last week claimed that computers using the NYPD's network edited articles including "Death of Eric Garner," "Amadou Diallo," and "Stop-and-Frisk." Edits dating back ten years were identified by Capital New York, but the NYPD said its limited computer records meant they were only able to find the individuals who allegedly changed the page related to Eric Garner's death.
"Two officers, who have been identified, were using department equipment to access Wikipedia and make entries," New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was reported as saying at an unrelated press conference on Monday afternoon. "I don’t anticipate any punishment, quite frankly." Police sources speaking to DNA Info said that editing Wikipedia was the officers' "First Amendment right," and that it was not inappropriate for them to add information that they believed was accurate.
the phrase "garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers" was added
Edits to the Wikipedia article titled "Death of Eric Garner" included changing the phrase "Garner raised both his arms in the air" to "Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke." The use of the word "chokehold" was replaced in two instances, with the phrases "chokehold or headlock" and "respiratory distress." The sentence "Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them," was also added to the article. Most of the changes were later removed by other Wikipedia users.
A spokesperson for the NYPD told DNA Info that none of the changes had been directed by police officials, while a source added that the two officers had been working in different units. Also speaking on Monday, New York's mayor Bill de Blasio said: "We are quite clear that when you are using city computers it is supposed to be for city business. This was not authorized business."