New York City police officer charged in hate crime

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 17, 2011 5:03 PM
New York City police officer charged in hate crime

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York City police officer was charged with a federal hate crime after he allegedly used a racial slur to brag about the false arrest of an African-American man, according to court documents unsealed on Monday.

Michael Daragjati, who has been with the NYPD for eight years, was accused of stopping and frisking the man on Staten Island in April.

The man complained about the treatment after the search turned up no weapons or contraband, at which point Daragjati arrested him and filed a report falsely claiming the man had resisted arrest by flailing his arms and kicking, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Brooklyn.

Investigators from the FBI and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau intercepted telephone calls in which they said Daragjati boasted about the arrest and made repeated derogatory references to African-Americans, telling a friend he had "fried another nigger."

In the calls, investigators quoted him as saying that it was too easy for police officers to get in trouble and that he had been "skating it for a long time."

Daragjati, 32, was arrested on Monday morning, and faces a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $100,000 fine if convicted of the criminal civil rights violation.

The complaint does not say why investigators began monitoring Daragjati's calls after the arrest, which was witnessed by three plain clothes officers from a different unit. A spokesman from the prosecutor's office declined to comment on whether those officers had raised concerns about Daragjati's conduct.

"The power to arrest -- to deprive a citizen of liberty -- must be used fairly, responsibly, and without bias," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement on Monday.

"Motivated by base racial animus, the defendant allegedly abused this power and responsibility. Our system of justice depends on the public's confidence that those who enforce the law also obey the law."

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly commended the investigation and prosecution.

Daragjati also faces unrelated charges of extortion and wire fraud involving a construction and snow-removal business he runs.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)