NYPD Lieutenant Apologizes for Kneeling With Protesters: Report

NYPD at Protest

Getty NYPD officers stand in front of protestors during a Black Lives Matter demonstration on May 28, 2020, in New York City.

On June 3, Robert Cattani, a New York Police Department lieutenant, sent an email to his colleagues apologizing for kneeling with protesters, the New York Post reported. The Post wrote that on June 11 it obtained a copy of the email, in which Cattani expresses his regret at kneeling with protesters in Foley Square, Lower Manhattan, on May 31 at one of the hundreds of gatherings and rallies following George Floyd‘s death in police custody.

The email obtained by The Post reads in part:

The conditions prior to the decision to take a knee were very difficult as we were put center stage with the entire crowd chanting. I know I made the wrong decision. We didn’t know how the protesters would have reacted if we didn’t and were attempting to reduce any extra violence.

The Post reported that Cattani also wrote about the officer who has been charged with second-degree murder in George Floyd’s death, Derek Chauvin: “We all know that a**hole in Minneapolis was wrong, yet we don’t concede for other officers’ mistakes. I do not place blame on anyone other than myself for not standing my ground.”


Video of the Event Shows Protesters Chanting at NYPD Officers to ‘Take a Knee’

A video of the May 31 event shows thousands of protesters telling the NYPD to “take a knee.” Four officers can then be seen on video kneeling for a few moments. Protesters cheered loudly after seeing that display.

In his email to fellow officers about kneeling at the protest, Cattani said: “I thought maybe that one protester/rioters who saw it would later think twice about fighting or hurting a cop. I was wrong. At least [that’s] what I told myself when we made that bad decision. I know that it was wrong and something I will be shamed and humiliated about for the rest of my life.”

This was the second instance on May 31 of NYPD officers kneeling at a George Floyd protest after three cops knelt in Queens earlier in the day. At that protest, at the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and 165th Street, the three officers joined in a reading of the names of black men and women who were killed by police before hugging protesters.


Cattani Wrote That He Considered Leaving the Department After the Protest

Cattani’s email spoke about how he felt after kneeling at the protest, saying that he had trouble eating and sleeping and even considered quitting the NYPD. “I could not imagine the idea of ever coming back to work and putting on the uniform I so wrongly shamed,” Cattani wrote. “However, I decided that was the easy way out for me and I will continue to come to work every day being there for my personnel.”

He also said that when he made the decision to kneel, it was against every value he stood for and his actions destroyed his reputation as a “good cop,” which he spent the first half of his career developing. He said it was a “horrible decision to give into a crowd of protesters’ demands,” according to the Post. Cattani is a lieutenant at the Midtown South Precinct of the NYPD.

Heavy reached out to the NYPD for more information about Cattani’s email but did not immediately hear back.

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