Road rage is a common enough affliction, but on Monday when a plainclothes NYPD detective exited his unmarked car to vehemently berate an Uber driver for honking at him, little did he know that the incident, being filmed by a passenger, would go viral on the Internet overnight. In response to the widespread outrage generated by the video, Patrick Cherry, the cop in the Uber rant, is on modified duty, and has been stripped of his gun and badge, police officials said on Wednesday.
Cherry has been removed from the NYPD's prestigious Joint Terrorism Task Force while the NYPD Internal Affairs and the Civilian Complaint Review Board investigate the incident, and is currently on desk duty until he is officially transferred out. Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Wednesday, the New York Post reported that Police Commissioner William J. Bratton offered an apology to the Uber driver and passengers, calling Cherry's behavior "unacceptable."
No good cop should watch that video without a wince. Because all good cops know that officer just made their jobs a little bit harder. In that kind of encounter, anger like that is unacceptable. In any encounter, discourtesy and obscene language like that is unacceptable. That officer’s behavior reflected poorly on everyone who wears our uniform.
According to the video's description, Cherry was allegedly attempting to park his unmarked vehicle without using a blinker, and the driver had pulled around, gesturing "casually and non-offensively" at detective to use his blinker. Cherry then pulled up behind their car and directed an expletive-laden — and at times patronizing and mocking — tirade against the Uber driver, at one point, asking him how long he had been "in this country." Cherry also said that the only reason the driver wasn't in handcuffs was because "this isn't important enough for me; you're not important enough."
Sanjay Seth, the passenger who recorded the incident and uploaded it to Youtube, wrote in a Facebook post:
Our Uber driver, Humayun, was abused by a police officer today in New York. The rage, door slamming, throwing items into the car, threatening arrest without cause was bad enough — but the officer's remarks at the end really took it to another level.
Seth later tweeted that the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that investigates officers' alleged wrongdoing, interviewed him about the incident.
Cherry has his defenders, among them Michael J. Palladino, union president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, who reminded that "cops are just like everyone else" with complicated lives. Palladino added:
Detective Cherry is a person of good character and an excellent detective. He really should not be judged by one isolated incident.
However, Cherry has been the subject of at least a dozen prior complaints, reported The Times, indicating that this was not an isolated incident. City officials told the newspaper that of the complaints dated back to 2001, some had "involved similar allegations."
Image: Sanjay Seth/YouTube (3)