About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

March 25, 2016

Arrest of Postal Worker in Crown Heights

Unless there's more to this story that hasn't come out -- and there may be (though I wouldn't bet on it) -- this is inexcusably shitty.

The video:

So is this unrelated incident in 2013 when a cop made a left turn into and killed a teacher crossing the street. It's all too common for drivers in error to get away with killing pedestrians in New York City without serious consequences. Add police into the mix, and this isn't even a surprise.

But the egregious and shameless part here is the city arguing that the victim "knew or should have known in the exercise of due/reasonable care of the risks and dangers incident to engaging in the activity alleged." That's lawyer talk for it's the pedestrian's fault for crossing the street, in the crosswalk, with the walk sign.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Monday that he reviewed multiple videos of the incident and was "not pleased" with what he saw, and that the officers were supposed to be in uniform as part of their detail.

"All four of these people, including the lieutenant, were in street clothes, not in uniform," Bratton said during an unrelated press conference Monday. "That’s in direct violation of our patrol guide. So we will be investigating that element of it.”

Grays said he hopes the officers involved will be disciplined, but not fired.

“I don’t want them to be jobless because they might have family, kids they need to support,” he said.

“It’s sad. I thought when I put on a uniform that I’d be treated a little different, but there’s no difference. I’m just another brother with a uniform.”
Follow-up post.


john mosby said...

I also don't understand how a city officer is able to stop a federal employee from doing his job. There must be a federal statute for interfering with the mails, or just the simple assault-on-a-federal-officer law. What's next: Will these guys try to pull over the marshals while they're transporting prisoners?


Anonymous said...

If a police officer witnesses a 'federal employee' murder someone, surely they don't have to let him finish his route. What if he's driving drunk? Same thing.

Now, once he's been arrested, the feds can presumably move to have the case quashed or sent to federal court. But I suspect that would only happen in a case where the crime involved the federal job and was not largely incidental, as this was.

Anonymous said...

Some comments on the NYPD rant forum:


(the basic idea being that someone probably had no common sense in that car)

Moskos said...

If you've lost the sympathy of fellow cops on The Rant, you really messed up. Losing The Rant is like Johnson losing Cronkite on the Vietnam War.

aNanyMouse said...

That Rant thread really ain't bad.

Those cops seemed not at all concerned about being videoed, as if their conduct was SOP.
Why are so many cops Undercover, if not for the War on Drugs?

How was this USPS guy (or any uniformed cops) supposed to know they were cops (instead of imposters), when he may've had but a few seconds to assess this?
What's the diff between having a slew of cops Undercover, and having a Secret State Police?

Moskos said...

If there was a supervisor there, that would really be bad supervision.

Keep in mind there are differences between plain-clothes cops and undercover cops (and off-duty cops), though none is in uniform.

As to uniforms, there was fear about that back when police were invented in 1829. Being in uniform was key part of not being a secret state police. The difference, though, I suppose, is that local police are still controlled locally and concerned with crimes, not subversion. But yeah, if it weren't for the war on drugs, I'd be a lot more supportive of non-uniformed police. There's also a self-selection process that attracts the more aggressive to those units.

And uniforms were again an issue in the late 19th century in the US. (Uniforms in general seen as un-American.)

Plain-clothes cops do serve a purpose beyond the war on drugs. At some point, if the goal is to catch a specific pick-pocket or other public nuisance and you need probable cause, you're not going to get it if they know you're there.

aNanyMouse said...

Yea, we need some plain-clothes cops, but I sure hope they're trained to take into account that Joe USPS driver isn't expecting these kind of run-ins with them, let alone expect him to have in mind the difference between plain-clothes and undercover cops.

I've got to wonder how much of this BS the Feds will stand for, before they really bring hammers down, esp. on those city depts. which are already in hot water (thanx to cases like Garner and Laquan).