Tracy McCarter, who was charged with murdering her husband in 2020, has filed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department (NYPD), alleging that police officers fabricated the confession that formed the basis of the case against her. McCarter also claims that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office obtained a search warrant for an email account she created to draw attention to her case but failed to disclose it, as required by law. The prosecutors dropped the case against McCarter in December 2020 due to insufficient evidence.
The lawsuit, filed on November 2 in the Southern District of New York, states that McCarter suffered physical and psychological harm as a result of being wrongfully arrested, charged, imprisoned, searched, and prosecuted. The lawsuit names four NYPD officers involved in the arrest and one investigator from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office who worked on the case. It is worth noting that all four police officers have faced civilian complaints of misconduct in the past.
The NYPD declined to comment on whether any of the officers are being investigated in relation to McCarter’s case, citing the ongoing litigation. The district attorney’s office also declined to comment on the allegation regarding the undisclosed search warrant.
According to the NYPD’s disciplinary guidelines, making false, misleading, and inaccurate statements is grounds for termination. However, there is no available data on how often such terminations occur. Lawsuits against the NYPD are typically settled, with the city bearing the financial burden. New York City is projected to pay over $100 million in settlements for such lawsuits this year alone.
Tracy McCarter’s case involves the death of her estranged husband, James Murray, in March 2020. McCarter claims that Murray had a history of alcoholism and abusive behavior towards her. On the night of his death, Murray allegedly attacked McCarter, who defended herself with a kitchen knife. Forensic experts hired by both McCarter’s team and the prosecution confirmed this account.
McCarter’s lawyers attempted to refute the alleged confession with body camera footage, but the judge ruled against them. McCarter was incarcerated on Rikers Island during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and was later released on house arrest in September 2020. The prosecution obtained search warrants for McCarter’s phone and computer based on the officer’s account of her confession.
District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who took office in January 2022, dropped the charges against McCarter in December of that year due to insufficient evidence. Months later, McCarter discovered that the district attorney’s office had withheld information about the surveillance of her email account. Google notified her in August 2023 that prosecutors had accessed information from an email account she used for advocacy. The search warrant for the account was obtained in December 2021, during the tenure of former District Attorney Cyrus Vance.
McCarter is seeking damages for her loss of income and the trauma she experienced during her arrest. She alleges that the ordeal left her with post-traumatic stress disorder and incurred medical bills for counseling. McCarter hopes that her case will prompt lawmakers to review laws that protect police, prosecutors, and judges, as she believes they hinder accountability in cases of alleged misconduct.