Mina Malik’s marriage to Derek Sells is something that she revealed when she was being vetted for the position.
A second high-ranking official with the Civilian Complaint Review Board has a cozy relationship with a law firm that has clients who have alleged abuse at the hands of police, the Daily News has learned.
Executive Director Mina Malik is married to Derek Sells, a prominent civil rights lawyer and managing partner at the Cochran Firm. The power couple recently sat next to each other at a New York Law School symposium about the NYPD’s use-of-force rules.
Malik, who assumed the position in January of last year, declined comment through Edison Alban, a CCRB spokesman. Alban said that when Malik was being vetted for the position, she let city officials know that Sells was her husband.
Alban said there was no conflict of interest because Sells doesn’t handle clients who have filed CCRB complaints.
But Sells, who on the firm’s website appears in a video discussing the types of clients the legal team represents — including alleged victims of police brutality — said there are no restrictions in place.
He said that while neither he nor his firm, established by O.J. Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran, currently represent any such clients, there is a chance that could happen.
Derek Sells (c.) does not handle clients who have filed CCRB complaints, a CCRB spokesman said.
“If we get a potential client who has initiated a CCRB complaint, then we will immediately notify the CCRB about that that if we decide to go forward,” Sells said. The Cochran Firm claims in the video that it has represented clients who alleged police abuse. It has not represented clients who had CCRB cases.
The News was the first to report the brewing controversy surrounding Richard Emery, the board’s chairman. His law firm represents a man suing an officer and sergeant who were probed by the CCRB, sparking conflict-of-interest claims from police unions.
On Thursday, he said his law firm would no longer take on clients whose CCRB cases involve Emery. The firm has racked up more than $ 1 million in settlements and legal fees from suits against the city and NYPD since he assumed his position in July 2014.
Meanwhile, Sells said it was unfair to suggest anything improper was going on, noting that his wife oversees CCRB operations. She does not personally investigate individual complaints.
The NYPD had no comment.