Efforts by Tyrone Cook in 2010 to end the wrongful arrest of a nephew plunged this veteran law enforcer into the cesspool of dirty practices among police and prosecutors in Philadelphia.
An investigation conducted by Cook succeeded in having the false charges against his nephew dismissed. Those charges arose from improper investigative techniques by detectives Cook discovered. Such corner-cutting techniques fuel mass incarceration from flawed arrests through overzealous prosecutions.
But Cook’s whistleblowing that exposed improprieties by the cops and the prosecutor on his nephew’s case cost Cook the job he held for over two decades: Philadelphia policeman.
“I just want my name cleared,” Cook said recently.
Those cesspool practices that swamped Cook are too often covered-up by the same authorities who administer crackdowns on ordinary citizens for the same infractions ignored when committed by police and prosecutors.
The discharge of then Sgt. Tyrone Cook reeked of retaliation…retaliation routinely visited upon whistleblowers in police departments across America. Whistleblowers rarely receive support from police officials stated a disturbing study issued by the International Association of Chiefs of Police nearly twenty-years ago.
Philadelphia police officials fired Cook in September 2010 for repeated lateness that allegedly occurred six years earlier. Officials fired Cook despite the fact that in 2004 Cook never received a single reprimand for any of the three dozen times officials claimed he arrived to work late.
Cook said the proof officials presented to substantiate their claims of his chronic lateness was a single video showing him once arriving to work at 8:06 a.m. for an 8 a.m. shift.
Suspiciously, those lateness charges – denied by Cook and his immediate PPD supervisor – occurred after Cook had provided officials with detailed accounts about the improprieties he uncovered and after those who Cook exposed complained to authorities about Cook.
A March 2018 Philadelphia Daily News commentary on Cook’s plight by award-winning journalist Solomon Jones carried this headline: “When a cop who speaks up for justice is fired for lateness, how can the rest of us expect justice?” That commentary also noted Cook’s whistleblowing against racial bias within the PPD during the early 1990s.
PPD data documents disgusting double standards where authorities smash whistleblowers while others cited for misconduct receive slaps on their wrist.
For example one police corporal caught falsifying times sheets 43 times was not fired like Cook but was allowed to have $2,625 deducted from his final paycheck upon retirement. Authorities allowed one police lieutenant, exposed for $41,008.57 in fraudulent overtime payments, to repay the money without prosecution for fraud.
Alarming evidence details repeated instances of police and prosecutors enmeshed in misconduct (alleged and confirmed) receiving promotion not punishment. The prosecutor initially on the case of Cook’s nephew received a promotion in 2018. That prosecutor, Noel DeSantis, was also involved in the case of famed Philadelphia rap music star Meek Mill.
Cook discovered that DeSantis had facilitated improper overtime payments for the three detectives assigned to his nephew’s case. In one July 2010 incident DeSantis called that trio to court – on overtime – for a proceeding that involved Cook’s nephew that did not require police testimony. Curiously, the paperwork for that court appearance stated motor vehicle violations not the aggravated assault lodged against Cook’s nephew. Cook’s nephew never had traffic violations, Cook said.
A PPD Internal Affairs report unrelated to the case of Cook’s nephew stated another detective “misused court time on numerous occasions” when he was subpoenaed by DeSantis “at least thirty nine times…to perform the functions normally performed” by DA Office detectives. That detective, according to the IA report, “acknowledged receiving court notices and appearing for the cases” where he had “no involvement for ADA DeSantis.”
Philadelphia’s District Attorneys Office did not respond to requests to interview DeSantis.
Philadelphia’s former District Attorney, now imprisoned on a federal corruption conviction, apparently brushed-off a May 2013 request to investigate Cook’s claims against DeSantis forwarded to Philly’s DA by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s lawyer discipline office. That Court office had dismissed Cook’s complaint against DeSantis.
“We have forwarded the information you have sent to us to the District Attorney’s Office for investigation,” stated the May 2013 letter Cook received from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. “The D.A.’s Office would be the proper venue to decide the propriety of Ms. DeSantis’ behavior/actions.”
The DA’s Office refused to inform Cook of any investigation of DeSantis regarding that 2013 Disciplinary Counsel referral. Finally, in July 2018, DA office staff told Cook the Disciplinary Counsel matter was dismissed months ago.
Cook’s July 2018 request for all information regarding a separate 2013 complaint he filed with the DA’s Special Investigations Unit also drew a blank. DA personnel quickly denied Cook’s request claiming the material Cook requested involved a criminal investigation shielded from public release.
When the DA’s Office received a series of questions from a reporter about DeSantis and Cook, the following statement was issued: “Given that everything occurred long before our administration took office [we] need more specifics to be able to track down what happened and how it was dealt with by the DAO.” The DA’s Office provided no further comment after receipt of the requested ‘specifics.’
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a respected civil rights attorney turned top prosecutor, took office in January 2018 on a pledge to purge criminal justice system inequities. In what some critics contend is an example of cesspool practices in Philadelphia DeSantis was installed this year as head of a newly created DA Office unit tasked to focus on financial exploitation and abuse of senior citizens.
Inequities in the justice system are a focus in the controversial case of Philly rapper Meek Mill who has clashed with DeSantis during court proceedings.
Mill once released a track where he proclaimed DeSantis a racist who hated him – criticism that brought rebuke from the presiding judge who Mill’s legal team has accused of bias against Mill. DeSantis said she supported Mill’s First Amendment rights to rap but reminded him that while he is under court supervision he had to “…respect the judge, the prosecutor, the police.”
Fired officer Tyrone Cook is disgusted that City and state authorities have blown off his documentation of improprieties and the suspicious circumstances of his PPD discharge.
“I got fired because I exposed corruption by police, prosecutors and a police commissioner,” Cook said recently. “What happened to me isn’t right!”