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NYC officer sues city, says he was bullied by doctor for taking sick leave

Photos from John Scola

A law enforcement officer in NYC is suing his municipality after he was reportedly bullied for taking sick time.

Officer Edward Donzelli claims that Dr. John Santucci was hostile to him after he requested medical leave for a chronic stomach condition and a hip injury he sustained in the line of duty.

The seven-year officer was recently suspended for recording a conversation with the doctor.

“I feel like he has been definitely harassing me and every time I went to him, it’s been nothing but a headache,” Donzelli said in a statement. “The fact is he needs to be terminated.”

Santucci has been reported several times by other NYPD officers, including ones with cancer.

“I want people to see what this doctor has done to not only myself, but this has been going on for a very long time,” Donzelli said of Santucci. “When is enough, enough?”

Donzelli first saw Santucci in November 2021 due to his chronic ulcerative colitis, as well as an injury to his right hip he sustained when an emotionally disturbed person injured him, requiring him to get surgery.

The officer notified the internal affairs board after his cousin, who also works for the city, claimed to have heard staffers talking about Donzelli’s case and making fun of his voice.

The NYPD allegedly punished Donzelli by hitting him with several infractions and an audit, including a false accusation that he was working with his body camera off.

He was eventually transferred from the 121st Precinct to the Health and Wellness Section of the NYPD on July 25, 2022, with members of the 121st giving conflicting accounts as to why he was sent away.

Following a Dec. 2, 2022, surgery to his hip, Donzelli was forced to see Santucci again, with the latter reportedly threatening to retire him early on medical grounds.

“These conversations occurred at each visit wherein [Donzelli] would ask for an accommodation and be told no without discussion,” court documents read.

Donzelli began recording conversations between himself and the doctor in order to get proof of his abusive behavior, eventually getting caught.

Upon realizing he was being recorded, Santucci tried to pull Donzelli’s phone out of his hand.

“Santucci proceeds to get up and rip the phone out of [Donzelli’s] hand,” court documents state, noting that Donzelli was injured in the mild scuffle.

Donzelli was suspended shortly after the incident.

“The NYPD Medical Division uses their doctors to systematically harass disabled officers out of employment when they could easily accommodate them until they retired,” Donzelli’s lawyer John Scola told the New York Post. “The NYPD, rather than end these illegal practices, punishes officers who attempt to record their doctor’s abuse.”

The NYPD stated that they will comment upon receiving court documentation, and the City Law Department declined to comment.


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