NYPD Sgt. Reginald McReynolds, who is African-American, said he was a victim of racial profiling when he was stopped by two fellow police officers while in his girlfriend's apartment building in the Bronx on October 26.
According to the official police report, the officers were responding to a domestic abuse call in the same building and mistook McReynolds for the suspect, handcuffing him after he refused to identify himself.
Eric Sanders, McReynolds' attorney, told a different story.
As a former NYPD officer himself, Sanders claims McReynolds immediately identified himself despite what he said was a lack of grounds for stopping him.
"You have to have a legal basis to stop someone in the first place," Sanders said. "They can't do that in a private building unless they establish that there are some grounds for suspicion."
The police report cites the Clean Halls program, which allows officers to stop suspicious occupants of private buildings, interrogate them and place them under arrest for criminal trespass, as legal basis for interrogating McReynolds,
McReynolds was walking up the building's stairs, returning with a bag of take-out Chinese food, when he encountered Officers Kyle Bach and Joseph Azevedo. Both officers had just left an apartment on the same floor as McReynolds' girlfriend, Yvelisse Cruz, in response to a domestic abuse call.
The police report said, after being advised that the alleged suspect might still in the building, the officers immediately stopped McReynolds thinking he might be the alleged abuser.
The report also said that after refusing to answer interrogation questions, they attempted to handcuff him as McReynolds pushed Azevedo in the chest. Cruz, who took pictures of the incident, was then instructed by McReynolds to call 911, and, according to the report, was told to lie to the dispatcher and claim that "a uniformed member of the services was hitting him in the face."
When back-up officers were called in, McReynolds was released, but was later suspended for 30 days on charges of misconduct toward an officer. He has since been ruled to be fit for duty and has returned to his position in the Quality Assurance Division of the department.
Sanders maintained that McReynolds is innocent on all counts of alleged misconduct.
Both Sanders and the police report said that McReynolds clarified that he "was on the job." Sanders explained this is a common phrase among the law enforcement community as indication of officer status, adding that the officers should have recognized that.
Sanders also said McReynolds never pushed any of the officers, and never instructed Cruz to lie on the 911 call, citing the lack of a call transcript in the police report.
A spokesperson for the NYPD said that the police commissioner was aware of the incident but had no comment.
Sanders said he plans on filing suit against the City of New York and linking this case with another racial profiling case involving three black detectives to show a pattern of racial profiling in the city.
"African-Americans and Latino citizens are stopped by police on a higher basis than any other group in New York and most don't even end in arrest," said Sanders. "They're tossing people to find an arrest. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. They think 'If I toss ten people, then I'll find maybe one out of ten.'"
No charges have been filed against the officers involved.