After an investigation, the four plainclothes NYPD cops caught on video in Brooklyn on St. Patrick’s Day making a questionable arrest of Glenn Grays, a uniformed African-American postman, were removed from their normal assignments and placed on modified duty while the incident is probed further, the NYPD announced Tuesday, March 29. Meanwhile, Luis Machado, the lieutenant who oversaw the arrest, was stripped of his gun and shield last Thursday pending the outcome.
Grays, 27, was stopped while delivering packages in his postal uniform along President Street near Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights on March 17, around 4 p.m. He had just exited his double-parked postal truck, package in hand, when an unmarked police car nearly sideswiped him. He vocalized their errant driving, causing them to halt.
“He made comments to the vehicle, as any New Yorker would,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said at a news conference last week. “The occupants of the vehicle stopped, backed up when he was crossing the street delivering the package.”
Yelling at them “is the only action that Glenn did that day that caused those plainclothes officers to stop their vehicle and to show who’s the biggest and the baddest, and place handcuffs on an on-duty postal employee who is delivering the U.S. mail,” Adams added. “If they would do that to Glenn, in his postal uniform, they would do it to any other person of color in this community.”
Last Monday, March 28, Adams released a bystander’s video of the confrontation that shows the four cops after they approached Grays and began forcing him across the street and against a wall. Machado and officers Lazo Lluka, Miguel Rodriguez and David Savella are the cops purported to be involved.
“Stop resisting!” one cop says as Grays stiffens his arms while being cuffed. “You’re going to get hurt if you don’t give me your [expletive] hands,” another officer threatens.
Grays frustratingly replies, “I’m not resisting. Get off of me.”
They eventually haul him off, leaving his truck unattended.
“I believe they wanted him to resist,” Adams suggests. “Those officers were extremely aggressive. He was smart enough not to resist. I believe because of that, he’s sitting here today telling his story.”
Grays shared similar sentiments. “The only thing that I think saved me was that it was on videotape. I was extremely terrified. I was afraid if I didn’t comply, something was going to happen to me.”
He described a collision afterwards, “They rear-ended a car and I wound up from the back seat banging my left shoulder onto the driver’s seat and banging my face onto their arm rest.”
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said last Tuesday that he viewed video footage of the confrontation and “was not pleased,” and is “very concerned that a U.S. postal truck was left unsecured, double-parked on a major thoroughfare in the city of New York. I’m very concerned about the performance of the officers, about the leadership role of the lieutenant involved and about the processing of the arrest at the precinct station house.”
“All four of these people, including the lieutenant, were in street clothes, not in uniform,” he added. “That’s in direct violation of our patrol guide. So we will be investigating that element of it. I’m very interested in the charge that was made against this individual, what [Grays] was arrested for. The validity of that, based on what I’ve witnessed on various videos that I’ve reviewed now, I have strong concerns about the charge against the individual.”
He added that the department is also reviewing the actions of the booking officer at the 71st Precinct, and that the Internal Affairs Bureau is looking at the arrest.
Mayor Bill de Blasio “will be in close touch with Bratton about this incident’s investigation and findings,” Monica Klein, the mayor’s deputy press secretary, said in a statement.
Fredric Rolando, president of The National Association of Letter Carriers, released a statement last week, saying they are, “troubled by this incident.” “We trust that the police department will investigate this matter thoroughly and expeditiously, and that any necessary actions will be taken.”
The Civilian Complaint Review Board is expected to review the case and will share its results with the NYPD, sources say.
Grays was issued a disorderly conduct summons and released. He said he has never been arrested or received a summons before, and hopes the officers involved will be disciplined, but not fired.
“They issued him a summons in hopes of sweeping this under the rug,” said Adams. “It is not against the law to voice outrage after almost being struck by a vehicle. This could have been another Eric Garner situation if Glenn hadn’t responded as calmly as he did. And if they would do that to Glenn in his uniform, they would do that to any person of color in that neighborhood.”
Grays indicated, “I don’t want them to be jobless because they might have family, kids they need to support. I don’t hate cops, I’m marrying one. It’s sad, I thought that when I put on that uniform, that I would be treated a little different, but it’s no difference. I’m just another brother with a uniform.”
Adams, co-founder of the group 100 Blacks In Law Enforcement Who Care, is scheduled to meet with Bratton on Wednesday to discuss the case.
“We must send a strong message that innocent people should not be put in handcuffs, taken to a precinct, and then attempted to cover it up,” he said. “That is unacceptable. This is one step away from Staten Island.”