New York, NY – Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents raided the Manhattan headquarters of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) on Tuesday morning.
An FBI spokeswoman confirmed to the New York Daily News that agents were “carrying out a law enforcement action in connection with an ongoing investigation” into the SBA.
However, she refused to provide any additional details about what investigators were looking for at the union offices on Worth Street, or who was the target of the investigation.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York declined to give the New York Daily News a comment.
It’s widely believed that the federal investigation could be related to an ongoing probe of NYPD Sergeant Ed Mullins, the controversial SBA president, who is facing administrative charges after he criticized city leadership on social media.
Sgt. Mullins filed a lawsuit in June against NYPD and the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) for violating his First Amendment rights.
In the lawsuit, the union boss accused the police department and the civilian review panel of trying to punish him for statements he made on social media, the New York Post reported.
The lawsuit alleged that NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) has repeatedly interrogated him for tweets he posted to the sergeants union’s Twitter feed.
“Mullins objected to the interrogations on the grounds that his speech was protected by the First Amendment and that he was speaking in his capacity as SBA President on a union platform at the time he made his public statements,” the complaint read, according to the New York Post.
Mullins filed the lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan and asked the judge to stop the police department and CCRB from conducting disciplinary investigations into him, the New York Daily News reported.
The lawsuit alleged NYPD and the civilian panel were retaliating against the union boss for outspoken criticisms on social media.
Mullins’ also claimed that NYPD had subpoenaed his phone records and those of his son, the New York Post reported.
CCRB has recommended disciplinary charges against the SBA president for three inflammatory tweets posted to the union’s official account, and Mullins’ lawsuit alleged those were violations of First Amendment rights.
Two of the charges were for offensive language that the union boss used in social media posts.
The third charge was for abuse of authority in connection with another tweet that upset city leadership, the New York Post reported.
The union boss included examples of the posts that he’d been called on the carpet for in his complaint.
The civilian panel found that Mullins abused his authority when he posted an arrest report about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 25-year-old daughter, Chiara de Blasio, who was arrested during the George Floyd protests, the New York Post reported.
Twitter later removed the post and said it violated the rules, and suspended the SBA account for two days, according to the New York Daily News.
The SBA president went after then-New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot on May 13, 2020 after she said she didn’t “give two rats’ -sses” [NOTE: Language censored by The Police Tribune] about NYPD officers getting masks and other personal protection equipment (PPE) during the height of the pandemic.
“Truth is this b—h has blood on her hands but why should anyone be surprised the NYPD has suffered under DeBlasio since he became Mayor,” the official SBA account tweeted.
At the time, Barbot was sitting on a stash of ventilators, masks, and other equipment that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene had in storage in New Jersey, according to the New York Post.
The third charge against Mullins by the CCRB for offensive language was related to a since-deleted tweet made in September of 2020 in which the union boss called soon-to-be-elected U.S. Representative Richie Torres a “first class whore” hours after the then-city councilman called for a probe into a possible police slowdown.
Mullins’ lawsuit claimed NYPD has put the SBA president through four mandatory interviews, opened disciplinary investigations, filed disciplinary charges against him, and threatened to suspend him and levy other discipline, the New York Daily News reported.
“Defendants’ actions are designed to suppress political speech protected by the First Amendment, insulate city leaders from political criticism and unseat Mullins as the elected leader of the SBA,” the complaint read. “It is critical that labor leaders across the country have the freedom to publicly call out government officials for corruption and incompetence without fear of retribution.”