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The Cops

New York’s Finest: Officer Involved in Shooting (Himself)

Plus, a DUI, domestic violence, and a $100 million bill for police misconduct.

3:02 PM EDT on September 11, 2023

An NYPD officer walking.
(Jack Finnegan / Unsplash)

One of the big tenets of policing is that there's no such thing as a "normal day." Anything can, and will, happen at any time. When you're a police officer, especially in New York City, a tranquil scene—like a little drive through Queens in your Kia Soul—can explode into violence at any moment. That's what happened to NYPD officer Christopher Campos, who was shot in the leg during a daytime road rage incident on August 30. Edwin and Shawn Rivera, brothers who were the other parties allegedly involved in the road rage altercation, now face multiple charges, including assault, strangulation, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal mischief, resisting arrest and obstructing government administration. But it's unclear, to me, what kind of weapon the brothers could be charged with possessing—because Campos shot himself

In a press conference after Campos was hospitalized, NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey alternately described the brothers as trying to take the cop's gun away from him and—as seems more accurate from my reading of the footage—as simply beating Campos up before his gun went off mid-struggle. According to reports, the incident started because the Rivera brothers were blocking a service road with their van. Campos made some kind of comment to them, passed the van, and then the three clashed again minutes later, when one brother broke the back window of the off-duty cop's Kia Soul. Video footage shot by bystanders shows Campos pull out his service weapon, scream at the Riveras that he's a cop, and then eventually scuffle with both brothers in the middle of the road until his gun goes off and he is struck in the thigh; one of the brothers, Edwin, is struck in the hand. Footage notably does not show Campos displaying his badge, which a police source told CBS News the department instructs its officers to "have a badge or department ID when using [service weapons] off-duty." The outlet noted that "it's not yet clear whether [Campos] had his and why he may not have displayed it." Campos has not been charged with any crime.

One thing is for sure: when you're a police officer, sometimes the guy with a gun who pulls out his weapon, totally escalates a situation, and ends up injuring multiple people—the guy who turns your normal day into a crime scene—is you. 

And now, the rest of the docket: 

  • On August 26, off-duty NYPD officer Aneal Mahabir was charged with assault and harassment for allegedly shoving his ex-girlfriend to the floor of her home in Queens.
  • Also on August 26, NYPD officer Anthony Fletcher was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and refusing to take a breath test while off duty.
  • On August 31, former NYPD officer Luis Marte, fired in 2022, testified while on trial for repeatedly punching a homeless woman in a jail cell that while he could put up with the slurs she was hurling at him, he eventually attacked her because she spit on him.
  • On September 4, New Rochelle Police Department detective Michael Vaccaro was fired after "a lengthy disciplinary process" that determined, yep, it's not OK to punch and kick someone who's getting arrested while you are off duty and just had a fight with the arrestee in a gas station parking lot.
  • On September 5, a retired NYPD sergeant filed a lawsuit against the City of New York and Detective Neftali Cruz. The plaintiff, identified in court documents as A.H., alleges that Cruz dodged disciplinary action for sexually assaulting her twice and stalking her after they dated for a little more than a year—and that the department and her union both failed to intervene when she asked them for help.
  • On September 6, NYPD communications technician Shyril Brunson was arrested after a dispute with her boyfriend.
  • On September 7, Legal Aid told the New York Daily News that the NYPD is probably going to spend around $100 million in police misconduct payouts this year—a similar figure to 2022. "Many of these officers named in these lawsuits already have a history of misconduct, so that to me shows a troubling continuation of the NYPD accountability and disciplinary system not really working very well," Legal Aid staff attorney Jeanette Wong told the paper. The City has already shelled out $50.5 million since January.
  • Also on September 7, a Bronx Supreme Court judge dismissed 67 cases tied to former detective Joseph Franco, who was fired from the NYPD in April 2020 for lying in court and on court documents in three different drug cases. A total of 324 cases connected to Franco's work as an undercover narcotics officer in the Bronx have been dismissed in the wake of his firing. 
  • On September 8, Streetsblog NYC reporter Julianne Cuba got to experience the amazing feeling that comes from finding out someone you hate is worse than you thought when a CCRB report from August revealed that Officer Frank Faber, who arbitrarily ticketed her in 2020, blasted "God Bless America" from his squad car speakers to intimidate an immigrant he pulled over in October 2021. No disciplinary action from the NYPD, though.
  • On September 10, the state Attorney General's office released bodycam footage that shows NYPD officers shooting a Roosevelt Island man holding a knife "at least 11 times" after he ran at three cops—two of whom reportedly received special training for dealing with people experiencing mental health crises, and one of whom was holding a riot shield.

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