A Throwback Thursday post on Instagram helped get a former NYPD cop tossed from the department, she claims in a new $5 million lawsuit.
Erica Rivera, 27, was fired from the force last August for dating a man with a criminal record after a two-year investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau that included questioning her about sex partners and secretly trailing her while off-duty.
“They treated me like a perp and took the job I loved away from me,” said Rivera, who has filed a notice with the city controller to sue the city for wrongful termination.
In addition to her relationship status, cops also used evidence of her taking her cousin, a convicted felon, to a train station as well as parking too close to a fire hydrant near her grandmother’s building as part of their case to fire her.
Rivera’s troubles began when she was a rookie officer on Aug. 17, 2012, and a woman walked into the 52nd Precinct station house in the Bronx and complained about a photo of her boyfriend, Danny Perez, and Rivera posted on the cop’s Instagram account, according to legal papers.
Rivera was called on the carpet by her commanding officer and explained that the photo, taken in 2007, was to celebrate “Throwback Thursday” — where people post old photos to the social media site. She added that she hadn’t had any contact with Perez in three years.
Rivera objected when the commander asked her if she was “having sex” with Perez. A month later, under questioning by IAB, she denied any intimate relationship with the ex-boyfriend.
The matter appeared to be closed until the spring of 2013, when a new allegation reached IAB about another boyfriend with a sketchy background.
A detective with the Blooming Grove Police Department in Orange County, where Rivera resided, allegedly reported to the NYPD that she was associating with a known criminal named George Mann, the legal papers say. Rivera was later told that Mann had been arrested for failing to pay child support.
Rivera was ordered under threat of being fired to say whether she was involved in a sexual relationship with Mann. She acknowledged that they were intimate but that she had only dated him on-and-off for about three months and had no knowledge of his criminal record, her lawyer told The News.
“Their inquiries about Erica Rivera’s sex life were inappropriate and legally out of bounds,” Eric Sanders said.
Sanders pointed out the apparent double standard of top City Hall aide Rachel Noerdlinger, who failed to disclose on a background check that she was living with a convicted killer but remains working for the city.
“If Erica Rivera was part of the spoils system as Rachel Noerdlinger (is), she would still be employed with the Police Department instead of thrown out like yesterday’s trash,” said Sanders.
The NYPD prohibits cops from associating with people involved in criminal activity. An NYPD spokeswoman said cops are subject to termination if they are found to violate department policies while in their probationary period.
Rivera was stripped of her guns and shield on Aug. 10 and fired three days later.
When she filed for unemployment payments, the NYPD objected and wrote a letter to the Labor Department stating that she was fired for associating with criminals, which increased the likelihood she would engage in criminal conduct, Rivera said.