On Tuesday, video of a man who claimed to be a cop harassing an Uber driver went viral, drawing public outcry. The incident happened Monday on the West Side Highway, where the officer was recorded by the driver’s backseat passenger yelling things like “How long have you been in this country?” and “Who do you think you’re talkin’ to here?”
The officer has been identified as Detective Patrick Cherry of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to the Daily News. The JTTF is part of the NYPD’s counterterrorism bureau and partners with the FBI to investigate potential terrorist threats. It was founded by former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and is controversial for its expansive power. New York Magazine called the JTTF “Kelly’s FBI and CIA.” Cherry’s connection to counterterrorism gives his xenophobia toward the driver a sinister edge.
Detective Cherry was reportedly on his way back from visiting another JTTF detective in the hospital. President of the Detectives Endowment Association Michael Palladino told the Daily News that the past few days have been “emotionally draining” for other detectives.
However, there is no excuse for Cherry’s abusive behavior. According to the passenger recording the video, Sanjay Seth, Cherry exploded after the driver gestured and honked at Cherry, who was attempting to park on the side of the street without using a blinker. The car Cherry was driving was not an NYPD vehicle, but was equipped with red-and-blue emergency lights.
PINAC published Detective Cherry’s email address and phone number. ANIMAL contacted both and is awaiting a reply.
NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is continuing to investigate the incident.
UPDATE: DNAInfo reports that Detective Cherry is unlikely to lose his job, but could lose up to 30 days pay if the Civilian Complaint Review Board finds him guilty of misconduct. Cherry has had about 10 complaints filed against him in his approximately 15-year career, a number of which are for verbally abusing civilians. According to DNAInfo, sources close to Cherry say that he privately “admits he went off the rails” and “that his behavior was inappropriate.” He has not made any public statement. Sanjay Seth, the passenger who filmed the altercation, will reportedly be speaking with the CCRB Wednesday afternoon.
UPDATE 2: Detective Cherry has been stripped of his badge and gun and placed on desk duty. He is being transferred away from the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
“No good cop can watch that without a wince,” Commissioner Bill Bratton said while announcing Cherry’s punishment during a press conference Wednesday. “That officer’s behavior reflected poorly on everyone who wears our uniform.”