A passenger caught on video a high-ranking NYPD detective berating an Uber driver on the side of the West Side Highway Monday afternoon. The expletive-laden, xenophobic rant came after the Uber driver went drove around the detective’s unmarked car, while he was parking.
The officer was identified as Detective Patrick Cherry, according to the New York Daily News.
The Daily News source said the car in the video doesn’t belong to the department, though the Hyundai did have emergency lights.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Is a Detective in the Intelligence Division
The Intelligence Division was revamped after 9/11 into a counterterrorism force, including analysts and officers stationed overseas.
Cherry, a 39-year-old Long Island resident, is part of the joint terrorism task force, the Daily News reported. He is stationed at Federal Plaza in Manhattan.
The Daily News reported that Cherry had been visiting a fellow detective who went into cardiac arrest during a surgical procedure last week and is in critical condition. Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, told the Daily News emotions have been running high on the task force:
The past five days have been emotionally draining for the members of the JTTF dealing with their fellow detective’s health. Despite what some people think, cops have feelings too.
Palladino said in a statement that “cops are just like everyone else,” according to DNAInfo.com.
“They have families, friends, and other things going on in their lives, too, that may affect their behavior at times, said Palladino in the statement. “I am not trying to minimize the significance of what occurred. There is no disputing that we are held to a higher standard and that is why this incident is so newsworthy.”
He said Cherry is a “a person of good character and an excellent detective,” who “should not be judged by one isolated incident.”
Cherry has also worked for for the Arson and Explosives Unit and the narcotics division. He has been in the department for about 15 years, according to DNAInfo.com.
The news website reported that he has apologized to friends, family and colleagues, according to a source close to him. The source said he’s “embarrassed” and knows his behavior was inappropriate.
Cherry apologized on Thursday in an interview with NBC New York:
I apologize. I sincerely apologize. People shouldn’t be treated that way. I let my emotions get the better of me and I was angry. My intention was to be courteous and then we got into an argument. There was no intention to berate or hurt deeply the driver.
He said he is willing to take the department’s punishment and added that the driver’s race had nothing to do with his anger. He also said his angry outburst shouldn’t reflect on all New York City cops. He said:
When I walked up, I was uptight. I wanted to know what the problem was. What did I do that was so wrong that I had to get chastised? I felt his driving actions were discourteous and impolite and when he stopped he said, ‘I’m not going to give you anything.’ I was upset that he refused to give me his license and registration and I yelled inappropriately. That’s not who I am, that’s not who I’ve been and that’s not how I conducted myself as an officer in New York City.
2. The Passenger Says the Officer ‘Abused’ the Driver
The passenger, Sanjay Seth, said in the description of the YouTube video:
Police abuse of Uber driver in New York City. In an unmarked car, the policeman was allegedly attempting to park without using his blinker at a green light. (His reverse lights weren’t on. Likely double parked without hazards on.) The Uber driver pulled around and gestured that he should use his blinker, casually and non-offensively, and kept driving us. The policeman aggressively pulls up behind us and this is what happens.
This occurred just before 2pm on the West side of Manhattan, in police precinct 6, on March 30th, 2015. The officer did not identify himself, but he had a New York license plate.
The driver was calm throughout the incident, while the officer appeared to be mocking his accent.
Cherry, who is white, said, “I don’t know where you’re coming from, where you think you’re appropriate in doing that; that’s not the way it works. How long have you been in this country?”
He asked the driver what “f***ing planet” he thinks he’s on. When the driver responded with what sounded like “planned” instead of planet, the officer sniped back at him to correct his English.
In a post on Facebook, he added, “Our Uber driver, Humayun, was abused by a police officer today in New York. The rage, door slamming, throwing items into the car, threatening arrest without cause was bad enough — but the officer’s remarks at the end really took it to another level.”
According to Uber, the driver wasn’t given a summons or a ticket. In the video, Cherry can be heard saying he would have arrested the driver, but he wasn’t important enough.
Uber said in a statement:
The behavior in the video is wrong and unacceptable and we appreciate the NYPD investigating the incident. We are in touch with our driver-partner who was subjected to this terrible experience and will continue to provide any support he needs.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the video “disturbing,” according to the New York Times.
“There’s just no place for any public servant to use discriminatory or negative language,” de Blasio said Thursday. “All of us are meant to treat people respectfully. Obviously, our police play a particularly sensitive role, and need to show respect for all people.”
3. 2 Civil Rights Lawsuits Involving Cherry Were Settled by the City
Cherry has been the target of at least two federal civil rights lawsuits during his career. Both of those cases were settled by the city, according to court records. Both lawsuits came while Cherry was assigned to the Brooklyn North Narcotics Division at the 73rd Precinct. The incidents both stemmed from “stop-and-frisk” arrests.
Cherry, the city and five other unnamed officers were sued by Roger Paul in 2005 as a result of a 2004 arrest in front of a Brooklyn house, according to court records. Paul claimed his civil rights were violated during the arrest.
According to the lawsuit, Paul said an unmarked car stopped outside the building on Oct. 26, 2004 at about 9:30-10 p.m. and two plainclothes officers got out. Cherry was identified as one of the officers, while the other was not named in the lawsuit. Paul said he was lawfully inside a gate talking to a friend who lives at the house.
Paul said the officers asked him and his friend if they could talk to him, and then asked if they had anything to hide. He said the officers told them if they didn’t have anything to hide, they had nothing to worry about. Paul said they were asked to step out onto the sidewalk and were frisked. The officers found a small bag of marijuana on Paul’s friend, but the officers said they were looking for something bigger and didn’t arrest them.
The two officers returned later that night and patted down the men again, Paul claimed. He said he asked the officers why they were searching them, saying they did nothing wrong and didn’t have anything on them. The officers then handcuffed Paul “in an extremely tight manner,” and brought him to the 73rd Precinct for questioning.
Paul said he was put into a van and driven around for about three to four hours while the officers stopped for donuts and coffee and picked up others who had been arrested. He was strip searched, but again nothing was found, according to the lawsuit. Paul said the officers told him someone told them he was a drug dealer or that he looked like a drug dealer. He was detained for several hours and then released without charges.
The city settled the lawsuit for $28,000, but did not admit wrongdoing by Cherry or the other officers.
The other lawsuit was filed in 2004 by Clifford Parker-Davidson against the city, Cherry and six other officers. The lawsuit stemmed from the 2003 arrest of Parker-Davidson at a Brooklyn apartment building. Parker-Davidson claimed in the lawsuit that he was pushed face first into a wall, thrown to the ground, kicked and punched, put in a chokehold, handcuffed and dragged out of the building. The lawsuit doesn’t detail what Cherry’s alleged involvement in the incident was. He was arrested on trespassing and resisting arrest charges, though he claimed he was lawfully in the building.
Parker-Davidson said he was then punched repeatedly while handcuffed in a police car. He said the officers used racial epithets, including calling him a n***er and said he was lucky not to be in a coffin. At the 73rd Precinct he said he was subjected to an unlawful strip search in the presence of a female officer, and was punched in the back and “karate-chopped” in the groin. He said he was denied medical attention, was detained for about 24 hours and then given an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal on the charges.
The city paid Parker-Davidson $40,000, while not admitting any wrongdoing.
According to the New York Times, Cherry has faced 12 civilian complaints since 2001, some of which were the result of similar incidents. The details and outcomes of those complaints weren’t released, the Times reported.
DNAInfo.com reported some of those complaints involved verbal abuse of civilians.
4. He Has Been Stripped of His Gun & Badge
The New York Post reports that Cherry has been stripped of his gun and badge while an investigation is completed. He has been put on desk duty and will be transferred out of the elite terrorism task force unit.
Bratton apologized at a Wednesday press conference, saying, according to the Gothamist:
That officer’s behavior reflected poorly on everyone who wears our uniform. In that kind of encounter, anger like that is unacceptable. In any kind of encounter, discourtesy like that and language like that is unacceptable. No good cop can watch that without a wince. All good cops know that the officer just made their jobs a little bit harder.
5. His Case is Being Heard by the Civilian Complaint Review Board & IAB
The New York Daily News reports that the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the incident. Police initially said they weren’t sure if the man in the video was an officer, but later said he is employed by the department.
A high-ranking police source told the paper, “IAB will look at the circumstances and determine if a duty status change is required.”
The case is also being examined by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the passenger said on Twitter.
DNAInfo.com reported that he will not lose his job, because verbal abuse of a civilian isn’t considered a fireable offense.
Cherry could face a loss of up to 30 days worth of pay, along with a loss of vacation days. A CCRB judge would issue a ruling, but Bratton would have the final say on Cherry’s punishment.