NYPD caught secretly editing police-brutality Wikipedia pages

Dozens of computers at the headquarters of the New York Police Department have been editing the Wikipedia pages of three black men killed by city police, Capital New York reports.

The pages include those of Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, and Eric Garner.

Edits were also made to “entries on stop-and-frisk, NYPD scandals, and prominent figures in the city’s political and police leadership.” The report identified 85 addresses from 1 Police Plaza involved in editing the pages.

In response, someone launched @NYPDedits to track Wikipedia pages edited from within 1 Police Plaza. The account follows in the footsteps of accounts like @congress-edits, which tracks Wikipedia edits from within the halls of Capitol Hill.

Amadou Diallo was shot at 41 times by the NYPD and killed in 1999 at age 22, inciting a firestorm of controversy. Sean Bell was shot and killed by police in 2006, and Eric Garner was choked and killed by police last year. Each incident has resulted in a public outcry over the NYPD’s use of force.

Capital New York’s Kelly Weill goes edit-by-edit, revealing that just hours after a grand jury decided to not indict officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner, an NYPD computer user made multiple significant edits, including adding “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them.”

The following comment was made by someone from 1 Police Plaza on Sean Bell’s page:

“He [Bell] was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable.” 

The edits clearly violate Wikipedia’s rules on conflict-of-interest editing. An NYPD spokeswoman says the department is currently investigating the report.

H/T Capital New York | Illustration by Max Fleishman

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.