Dana Martillo is a NYPD sergeant who was seen on video wearing cop-themed pro-Trump patches on her uniform at a Brooklyn Black Lives Matter protest. She was also spotted wearing her mask improperly, with her nose exposed. The 37-year-old Martillo was identified through her nameplate and badge number and her identity was confirmed by the New York Daily News.
The BLM protest was held on Friday, February 5, 2021, to call for the firing of Officer Artem Prusayev, who is assigned to the precinct, and was seen on video pulling his gun at a January 12 protest over the shooting death of Andre Hill in Columbus, Ohio. According to News12, protesters said Prusayev drew his weapon and brandished his gun toward protesters after they told him to put on a mask. The NYPD has ordered all officers to wear masks while in public, in department facilities and where social distancing isn’t possible amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, according to
The NYPD tweeted about the video of Martillo after it went viral, without mentioning her by name, but writing, “We are aware of a video showing one of our members wearing a politically oriented patch. The officer has already received an initial discipline. A further investigation is ongoing.” Martillo, who has been an officer since 2008, could not be reached for comment by Heavy. According to the Daily News, it is against departmental policy for an officer to wear political symbols on his or her uniform or to make political statements while in uniform.
Here’s what you need to know about NYPD Sergeant Dana Martillo:
1. The Video Shows Martillo Being Asked by Protesters ‘Where Were You on January 6?’ & Blowing a Kiss to Someone Outside the Camera Frame
A video posted to social media show Sgt. Dana Martillo standing with a line of officers facing off against Black Lives Matter protesters at the NYPD’s 84th Precinct in Brooklyn. In the video, Martillo can be seen with her mask below her nose. The face mask includes the big grinning white teeth of the Cheshire Cat from “Alice in Wonderland” and says, “We’re all mad here.” The video also shows two patches on Martillo’s uniform below her body camera. One patch includes a Punisher skull logo and the phrases “Trump 2020” and “Make Law Enforcement Great Again.” Another patch features only the Punisher skull logo with blond hair styled like former President Donald Trump.
According to Vulture, the skull-shaped logo taken from Marvel Comics is popular with police and military, along with militia groups, like the 3 Percenters. It is often seen alongside “Blue Lives Matter” imagery.
Gerry Conway, the co-creator of The Punisher, retweeted the video of Martillo and added, “Any cop wearing *any* political symbol on his uniform (left-wing or right-wing, ha, who am I kidding, it’s gonna be right-wing) should be immediately dismissed. End of discussion. I’m a #union guy but if police unions defend this, f**k ‘em.” Conway has spoken out about the use of the logo by police and military, saying the vigilante character shouldn’t be used by those entrusted who have taken an oath of service. “This is a lawless individual who takes the law into their own hand, and this is exactly what we do not need as police officers,” Conway told the Daily News in 2018.
In the video, Martillo and the other officers are silent as protesters talk and yell at them. One asks, “Yo where were you on January 6?” The comment is a reference to the pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol. Multiple police officers have been identified and arrested in connection to the siege of the Capitol and others have been found to have attended the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington D.C. before the building was breached.
Another protester says, “Domestic f***** terrorists right here,” toward Martillo and the other officers. “You are the terrorists,” another protester says. The video ends with Martillo pulling her mask down off her mouth to blow a kiss toward someone off camera.
2. NYPD Commissioner Shea Said Members ‘Must Remain Unpolitical’
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea addressed the viral video, which has more than 1.4 million views, writing on Twitter, “Members of the NYPD must remain apolitical — it’s essential to public trust & officers’ ability to perform their jobs.” Shea didn’t name Martillo, but linked to a NYPD News tweet with a statement about the video.
The NYPD has not provided details about what discipline Martillo has faced and what the outcome of the investigation could be. A spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN, “We thank our partners at the NYPD for their swift action on the matter.”
In October 2020, an unidentified NYPD officer was suspended without pay after using his patrol SUV’s loudspeaker to say, “Trump 2020,” according to PIX11. One video of the incident shows the officer saying, “Trump 2020. Put it on YouTube. Put it on Facebook.” Journalist Talia Jane tweeted another video and wrote, “NYPD officers in Flatbush were allegedly saying ‘Trump 2020’ over and over again on their patrol car’s speaker tonight. They stopped when someone started filming but couldn’t resist one more — in violation of the NYPD’s policy against endorsing candidates on duty.”
At the time, Shea said in a statement that the video was “100% unacceptable” and added, ““Law enforcement must remain apolitical, it is essential in our role to serve ALL New Yorkers regardless of any political beliefs. It is essential for New Yorkers to trust their police. Updates to follow after initial investigation.” De Blasio added, “”Let me be clear: Any NYPD officer pushing any political agenda while on duty will face consequences. We will act fast here, and this will not be tolerated.” The NYPD has not provided an update on that investigation and the discipline, if any, the officer faced.
3. Martillo Was Promoted to Sergeant in 2016, Serves in Transit Division District 30
According to CapStat, a data website run by the Legal Aid Society’s Special Litigation Unit Cop Accountability Project, Martillo, who wears shield number 26835, works in Kings County, became an officer in January 2008 and was most recently assigned to Transit Division District 30 at the Hoyt/Schermerhorn Street Station in Brooklyn. Martillo was promoted to sergeant in 2016.
According to another data website, SeeThroughNY, Martillo was paid $133,175 in 2020, including a base salary of $109,360. The CapStat website shows Martillo earned $89,371 as her base salary in 2018, along with $12,583 in other pay and $2,967 in overtime.
Talia Jane, an independent journalist who often documents protests in New York City and elsewhere around the country, told Gothamist about Martillo, “It speaks to how ineffective the disciplinary actions that the NYPD takes are. The worst that’s probably going to happen to this person is that she might get docked a couple of vacation days. So, of course, she’s going to be blowing kisses and proudly flaunting this because the repercussions for are not that serious.”
4. Martillo Was Accused of False Arrest in a 2013 Lawsuit & Has Had at Least 7 Complaints Made Against Her Since 2011
Martillo was one of two officers named in a federal lawsuit in 2013 accusing them false arrest, malicious prosecution, illegal search and seizure and unlawful imprisonment. The accuser, Hamath Diop, said he was falsely arrested by Martillo and three others in 2011 in Kings County, according to federal court records.
Diop said in the lawsuit he was parked when three young men entered his vehicle and ordered him to drive at knifepoint. Diop said the men had just participated in an armed robbery. According to Diop, as he was forced to drive, he crashed into another car. When the NYPD arrived, including Martillo, they found some items taken from the robbery in his car. Diop said he told the officers he had been forced to drive, but they told him to be quiet and arrested him. Charges, including robbery, were later dropped.
The lawsuit was dismissed by a judge in August 2014. U.S. District Judge Gregory H. Woods citied qualified immunity for the officers in his dismissal and said it exists because of, “decisions that they make in situations like — difficult, fast-moving, on-the-job decisions about which officers of reasonable competence could disagree.” Woods said Martillo and the other officer, Troy Blake, could not prove the decision made to arrest Diop was supported by probable cause, but did prove they are protected by qualified immunity. An appeal filed by Diop was also denied.
Along with the lawsuit, Martillo has also been the target of at least seven complaints since 2011, according to misconduct data posted online by the ACLU of New York. The complaints stem from five separate incidents. She was either exonerated or the investigation was not completed in each case.
5. Martillo’s Police Union Leadership Have Defended Her, Saying a NYPD Chief Was Not Disciplined for Kneeling With Black Lives Matter Protesters
The Sergeants Benevolent Association, the NYPD union that represents Martillo, defended her on social media. The SBA tweeted, “NYPD Sergeant Martillo should be treated the same as NYPD Chief Monaghan when he made a political statement. Nothing happen to him! DOUBLE STANDARD or WHITE SHIRT IMMUNITY?” The tweet includes a photo of NYPD Chief of Department Daniel Monahan kneeling with Black Lives Matter protesters during summer 2020. The SBA also re-tweeted a “Blue Lives Matter” meme calling for Shea to “End the war on police officers.”
SBA President Ed Mullins told the New York Post that Martillo simply should have been instructed to remove the patches by her superiors. “With all the stuff that’s occurring in the city right now, we’re worried about a patch? You know how to fix that problem. You say, ‘It’s not authorized. Take it off.'” Mullins told the Post morale in the department is “terrible” and said, “Shea should be out defending his cops.”
Mullins similarly defended the officer who shouted “Trump 2020” through his patrol SUV’s bullhorn in October, telling PIX11, “The NYPD has a history of officers making political or outside the norm social statements either on video or other social media and ignoring it completely. The act of suspending this officer is unnecessary, way over the top and could of been addressed with an instruction of department policy. It wasn’t too long ago the Chief of Department took a knee in full uniform with protesters and no disciplinary action was issued.”
Mullins added, “I guess we are left to wonder — if the officer supported Joe Biden would he have been suspended?”