A black Staten Island man is suing a white NYPD officer for falsely accusing him of resisting arrest.
[Kendrick] Gray, 32, was already a plaintiff in a pending federal lawsuit alleging he was unlawfully stopped and frisked two separate times by NYPD cops in 2010. The lawsuit was amended last month to include his run-in with [Officer Michael] Daragjati, Gray’s lawyer confirmed.
Daragjati had stopped Gray on April 15, 2011, frisked him in a heavy-handed fashion, and let him go, according to court papers. But then Gray complained to Daragjati about the rough treatment. Daragjati, feeling disrespected, arrested him on fabricated charges, claiming Gray had resisted arrest.
After the arrest, federal authorities intercepted a phone call Daragiati made to a female friend during which he bragged that he had just "fried another n---er. No big deal."
Federal investigators had tapped Daragjati's phone while probing him for possible ties to a drug dealer. During the investigation, authorities would also uncover that Daragjati had committed insurance fraud and abused his authority after threatening a man whom he believed to have stolen a snow plow from a business he owned.
Daragjati, an eight-year veteran of the force, was arrested in October 2011 on charges of "insurance fraud, extortion and violating the civil rights of an African-American with a false arrest." In January, he plead guilty to the charges, and was terminated from the NYPD. As part of a plea deal, Daragiati won't appeal any sentence less than 63 months in prison.
Gray's lawsuit comes amidst growing public outrage over the racial disparities in the use of stop and frisks by the NYPD.
A recent report from the NYCLU found that "in 70 out of 76 precincts, blacks and Latinos accounted for more than 50 percent of stops, and in 33 precincts they accounted for more than 90 percent of stops."
On Wednesday, Public Advocate (and likely Mayoral candidate) Bill de Blasio called for an internal audit of the program, to ensure all stops are warranted and based on a reasonable level of suspicion. "Stop and frisk is a valid police tool, but it is being misused thousands of times each day," he said in a statement. "Every unwarranted stop widens the gap between police and the communities they protect—making us all less safe. The Mayor needs to exercise leadership and direct the NYPD to reduce unwarranted stops. If he doesn’t, we will show him the way."
To this, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson responded, "We will not continue to be the safest big city in America if Mr. de Blasio has his way."
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