Years ago, if someone told you a story about an NYPD officer lambasting a taxi driver, it was easy to imagine that the encounter wasn't actually all that egregious. Sure, maybe the cop overreacted, but you weren't there, so who knows what really happened? The person telling you the story could be exaggerating. And maybe in your experience cops don't verbally berate people for nothing. If you're not poor, or an immigrant, or a member of a minority group, you may go your whole life without witnessing an abusive police officer.
But these days, New York City is filled with recording devices. And they give everyone a window into the verbal abuse and intimidation that some police dish out to those they perceive as powerless. In the latest example, the victim is an Uber driver. One of his passengers, Sanjay Seth, had the presence of mind to pull out a cell phone and record the interaction. And then he posted a stellar example of citizen journalism to YouTube.
Here's the video he shot, followed by the explanation:
In an unmarked car, the policeman was allegedly attempting to park without using his blinker at a green light. (His reverse lights weren't on. Likely double parked without hazards on.) The Uber driver pulled around and gestured that he should use his blinker, casually and non-offensively, and kept driving us. The policeman quickly pulls up behind us and this is what happens. This occurred just before 2pm on the West side of Manhattan, in NYPD 6th Precinct, on March 30th, 2015, near Little West 12th Street. The officer did not identify himself, but he had a New York license plate: GSS 8891. The officer was later identified as Detective Patrick Cherry, at the time a member of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The police officer hasn't shared his version of what transpired before the video started rolling, but the passengers in the car were impartial observers, and they seemed sure he was at fault.