New York, NY – Four New York Police Department (NYPD) officers have been suspended without pay after they were caught on video on Monday night doing nothing when a man accidentally shot himself right in front of them on a city sidewalk.
An NYPD spokesman said the incident occurred on Aug. 23 at the corner of 136th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem, the New York Daily News reported.
A security video filmed from a nearby business showed two NYPD officers leaning against a wall along a sidewalk and an NYPD SUV double-parked in the street about 10 yards away from them.
The video showed a group of men standing on the sidewalk next to a vehicle drinking and gambling in full view of the officers.
NYPD told the New York Daily News that the officers were on a “crime reduction assignment” in the area.
The video showed there was a sudden flash in the video as a gun went off, and the men scattered.
One of the men hobbled away as though he had been shot or injured, the video showed.
The officers standing about 15 feet away from where the gunshot occurred did not appear to react to it in the video.
After most of the men had fled, one of the officers stepped out and looked around the corner, but still did not take any action with regard to the shooting he had just witnessed.
Then the video showed that the officers in the double-parked police SUV actually backed their vehicle up a few feet to allow one of the people involved in the shooting incident to get their car out of a parking space and drive away, the New York Daily News reported.
A few men returned to the scene to pick up items they dropped when they fled after the gun went off.
However, police sources told the New York Daily News that they left a handgun laying in the middle of the sidewalk next to 50-foot trail of blood.
It appeared the officers never even noticed the gun on the sidewalk.
The officers never reported the shooting on their radios, the New York Daily News reported.
Instead, they reported it as a fireworks incident.
An NYPD source told The Police Tribune that the other police SUV that pulled up at the scene in the end of the video was responding to a shots fired call to 911.
The source said those officers found the gun on the sidewalk and requested that a supervisor be sent to the scene.
All four officers who were present when the incident occurred were placed on unpaid suspension while NYPD investigated, the New York Daily News reported.
“I don’t think they’re going to get fired but I think they’ll likely lose a whole bunch of vacation days and be put on probation,” an NYPD source told The Police Tribune.
He said that what happened wasn’t something that NYPD officers would have done 10 years ago.
Back then, the officers would have at least run them off the sidewalk, the source said.
“But they’ve decriminalized drinking so there’s no point in handing out drinking tickets anymore. And they won’t prosecute the gambling either,” he said.
But he said that regardless of those facts, the officers should have broken it up and told the guys drinking and gambling on the sidewalk to move on.
“It’s totally the political climate,” the source said. “You’re going to get more in trouble for actually doing your job if something goes south or if it’s politically inconvenient. So instead, they do nothing.”
He said the officers featured in the video were an extreme example.
“Look, it’s indicative of the Pantaleo effect,” the NYPD source said, referencing former NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo who was fired in connection with the death of Eric Garner even though he had been cleared of criminal wrongdoing multiple times.
“This is what happens when officers get punished for the right intentions,” he told The Police Tribune. “Anytime things go bad, they have no support from the department or the city. So it’s easier and safer to do nothing than to try to do their jobs.”