The NYPD's already controversial stop-and-frisk tactic is having another extremely bad public relations moment with the arrest today of officer Michael Daragjati, an eight-year veteran of the force, who is charged with violating a local man's civil rights, adding insult to injury with racist language. After an April street search turned up nothing, a 31-year-old man demanded Daragjati's badge number and was subsequently handcuffed for resisting arrest. The next day, in a phone call tapped by the government, Daragjati told a friend about being forced to appear in court: "I sat there for a couple of hours by the time I got it all done but, fried another nigger," he said. His friend replied, rightfully, "What?" and the officer repeated the offending phrase and added, "no big deal." That got him a laugh.
The officer was hit today with a misdemeanor civil rights violation charge, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine, but Daragjati is actually in more trouble concurrently:
In a separate incident, prosecutors said that in March, Officer Daragjati lured a man, whom he suspected of stealing his snowplow near his house in Staten Island, to a parking lot in Staten Island, where a group of eight men pulled the man out of his car, beat him and ordered him to return the plow or pay $5,000. Later in the day, Officer Daragjati showed someone a photo on his cell phone depicting the man’s injuries, prosecutors said.
There are also extortion and insurance fraud charges stemming from a third incident, also snowplow-related. Those charges could put him away for up to twenty years and the fines could reach $500,000, which in some ways still seems like getting off easy.
Officer Faces Civil Rights Charges in Stop-and-Frisk Arrest [City Room/NYT]