New York, NY – Rank-and-file officers and the New York Police Sergeant’s Benevolent Association (NYSBA) are pointing to the tactics used during a recent run-in with an armed suspect as evidence that the city’s mayor and police commissioner have caused officers to hesitate in situations warranting deadly force (video below).
“Cops don’t want to pull their gun even if their lives are on the line,” one officer told the New York Daily News.
The concerns were raised after the recent release of a 26-second bodycam video showing New York Police Department (NYPD) officers’ Dec. 22, 2018 encounter with 29-year-old Juan Mendez.
The officers were dispatched to a report of a man with a gun on West 129th Street at approximately 10:30 p.m., the New York Daily News reported.
The officers entered a building and stepped into a hallway, where they were immediately met by Mendez, who was holding a gun at his side, the video showed.
“What is that, man?” one officer asked, as Mendez walked towards them in the confined hallway.
“What is that – don’t f--k with us, man!” he warned, Taser in hand.
The second officer then pulled out his pepper spray, just as the initial officer deployed his Taser.
“The cop covering the officer with the Taser should have, at the very least, pulled out his weapon,” one officer told the New York Daily News. “Instead, he pulled his pepper spray. What would that have done if this guy started shooting?”
The officers immediately took Mendez into custody on charges of menacing and criminal possession of a weapon.
Investigators ultimately determined that the weapon Mendez was holding was an air pistol, New York Police Chief Terence Monahan said.
“It was actually great the way it turned out,” Chief Monahan said. “We were able to take him out and end the threat using nonlethal [force].”
Chief Monahan noted that such incidents “happen in seconds.”
“They made a decision and luckily everything worked out good,” he added.
While the chief might have been pleased with the tactics used during the encounter, other NYPD officers and the NYSBA were not.
“The cop who pulled out the pepper spray... no one wants to ride with him because of what happened,” one officer said.
He further explained that officers in the field are “afraid to pull their gun” because of the way New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill treated a NYPD sergeant who fatally shot a woman who tried to hit him with a bat in 2016, the New York Daily News reported.
Commissioner O’Neill said that Sergeant Hugh Barry and the entire NYPD “failed” the woman – even though she was trying to kill Sgt. Barry when he used deadly force against her.
Sgt. Barry was subsequently charged with second-degree murder.
The case went to trial, and he was acquitted in February of 2018. Yet, the city still paid the attempted-cop killer’s family $2 million.
“Bringing a taser to a gunfight WILL GET COPS KILLED. ITS NOT HOW WE TRAIN,” the NYSBA tweeted after the video of officer’s run-in with Mendez was released.
“This is a result of ANTI POLICE POLICIES & lack of SUPPORT from the Mayor & Police Commissioner. COPS ARE HESITANT thanks to ONeill’s & his ‘WE FAILED’ statement on Sgt Barry’s life threatening shooting,” the post read.
You can watch bodycam footage of the officer’s encounter with Mendez in the video below: