How the Predatory NYPD Treats Good Police Officers

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LeVelle DeSean Ming, a 41-year-old New York cabbie, had been on shift for about ten hours when he got bogged down in traffic near the Vudu Lounge on First Avenue. Dealing with congealed late-night traffic was tough enough, but Ming’s patience was depleted even further when a group of about 15 drunken males staggered out of the lounge and crossed in front of him against the traffic light.

The weary cabbie tapped his horn and muttered a disgusted comment about the behavior of the drunken revelers. One of them, a man named John Virga, overheard the remark and reached through the driver’s side window, punching Ming three times in the face. The cab driver attempted to open the door, only to have Virga slam in against his chest, bruising some ribs.

After Ming finally managed to exit the vehicle, the beating began in earnest. More than a dozen of Virga’s comrades swarmed Ming, punching and kicking the outnumbered and helpless cabbie while witnesses looked on in horror.

As the assault grew uglier, a Park Avenue doorman frantically dialed 911. “You got to get the cops over,” he pleaded. “They’re beating the sh*t out of a cab driver. About 15 guys. They’re f*****g jumping him…. They’re getting a two-by-four. I’m witnessing a big two-by-four being picked up.”

Calling the police for help — which is never a good idea — was a gratuitous act in this case, since the assailants were the police: rookie officers who belong to the NYPD’s Manhattan North Impact (MNI) unit.

As it happens, there was one officer on the scene who tried to prevent the gang assault from becoming a homicide. As the assailant armed with a two-by-four approached Ming with lethal intent, Sgt. Anthony Acosta waded into the melee, identifying himself as a police officer and shielding the victim.

“I’m a cop, let go,” Acosta commanded the punk, who dropped the club and took a swing at the off-duty sergeant. Acosta fended off the drunken bully and helped the victim get into his cab. With the help of another off-duty sergeant, Acosta managed to dispense the mob.

One of the eyewitnesses to the December 17, 2008 crime was a lady friend of NYPD Captain William Pla, the officer who had organized a Christmas party for the MNI unit.

“You’re animals,” the woman shouted at the assailants, reports the Village Voice. “You’re savages. What are you doing?”

Ming was interviewed by an apparently sympathetic Internal Affairs detective, who soothingly assured the victim that “We don’t need cops like that.” Ming assumed that statement referred to the drunken wolf pack who had assaulted him. However, the detective might well have been referring to Sgt. Acosta, the officer who saved his life.

From the moment Captain Pla arrived on the scene, he stage-managed a damage control operation that  resulted in Acosta — a much-decorated veteran officer — being removed from street duty.

After uniformed officers arrived on the scene, Acosta identified himself as both a policeman and an eyewitness. He was immediately assaulted and handcuffed, and then put in a police vehicle. He was taken to a nearby station house and detained for most of the night in the roll call room. He was eventually approached by Inspector Michael Harrington, who insisted that Acosta follow a carefully written script: He was to sign a statement claiming that he had broken up the fight but had not identified himself as a police officer when he was arrested.

“Listen, this is an unfortunate incident,” the Inspector told Acosta. “This is what you’re going to say.”

After Acosta refused to perjure himself, he was forced to turn in his badge and gun, and placed on a “modified assignment” for the “good order of the department.” He was eventually hit with five spurious administrative charges: “Conduct unbecoming,” failing to identify himself, interfering with an off-duty police officer, improperly filling out line-of-duty injury paperwork, and improperly preparing witness statements. Predictably, his police union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, did nothing to help him.

None of Ming’s assailants was ever charged with a crime. A few of them endured trivial administrative discipline before returning to duty. Captain Pla, who permitted his subordinates to attack the cabbie and supervised the post-beating cover-up, wasn’t punished in any way.

Meanwhile, the victim of the police assault was arrested and charged with “aggravated unlicensed driving,” and forced to pay a fine by a judge who insisted that Ming had been brutalized during a traffic stop.

Acosta spent more than a year in internal exile within the NYPD, eventually being restored to full duty when the Voice began asking questions. He should consider himself fortunate.

Adrian Schoolcraft, another veteran NYPD officer, documented and publicized the widespread use of illegal quotas for arrests and citations, the compiling of fraudulent crime statistics, and other corrupt practices within Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct. Thanks to the actions of Schoolcraft and other whistleblowers, those charges have  have tardily resulted in official disciplinary action.

However, Schoolcraft himself was driven to seek refuge in his parents’ home in upstate New York after he was kidnapped by a heavily armed Emergency Services Unit — a specialized SWAT-type team used to capture dangerous suspects — and imprisoned in a psychiatric ward. This act of official retaliation against a dissident was taken directly from the playbook of the Brezhnev-era Soviet KGB.

Amid ever-accumulating accounts of police corruption and abuse, many people are driven to exclaim, “Where are all of the good cops?” The dismal but inescapable answer is that the Leviathan State’s internal security force is designed to promote the depraved and opportunistic, while punishing conscientious individual officers who seek to protect and serve the public, rather than the interests of the Regime.

10:47 am on October 18, 2010