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NYPD defends ‘legal and professional’ traffic stop of ‘Central Park 5’ council member, releases bodycam video

The NYPD defended an officer's traffic stop on NY City Council member Yusef Salaam, who claimed he was pulled over without an explanation.

The New York City Police Department is defending an officer’s “legal and professional” traffic stop on City Council member Yusef Salaam, a member of the “Central Park 5.”

The NYPD released a statement, body camera video and a copy of the vehicle report generated by officers after the interaction in response to Salaam claiming he was stopped without explanation just days after New York City Mayor Eric Adams stood firm in vetoing a City Council bill to document every police stop and encounter with the public. 

“At approximately 6:20 p.m. yesterday evening in the 26th precinct, an officer pulled over a blue sedan with a Georgia license plate for driving with dark tint beyond legal limits, a violation of New York State law. The officer approached the vehicle, identified himself, and asked the driver to roll down his windows,” the NYPD wrote, also sharing 41 seconds of video of the stop. 


“The driver complied and identified himself as New York City Councilmember Yusef Salaam, performing official duties, at which point the officer advised him to have a good night. This entire account is corroborated by body-worn camera footage and the vehicle report,” the department said. “As the video shows, throughout this interaction, the officer conducted himself professionally and respectfully. He followed all proper procedures, including procedures that were put in place after Detective Russel Timoshenko was shot and killed through tinted windows in 2007. This officer should be commended for his discretion appropriately so the councilmember could complete his official duties.” 

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NYC MAYOR ADAMS ACCUSED OF ‘GETTING HIS TRUMP ON’ BY VETOING COUNCIL BILL TO TRACK EVERY POLICE STOP

“To be clear, however, last night’s exchange was not a Level 1 interaction, as any vehicle stop is, by definition, a Level 4 encounter since the officer had probable cause of a violation of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law,” the statement added. “And following NYPD procedure, all vehicle stops are already properly documented with a vehicle report, as was done here.” 

Salaam earlier Saturday had released a statement of his own saying, “Last night, while driving with my wife and children and listening in to a call with my Council colleagues on speakerphone, I was pulled over by an NYPD officer in my beloved Village of Harlem within the 28th Precinct. I introduced myself as Councilman Yusef Salaam, and subsequently asked the officer why I was pulled over. Instead of answering my question, the officer stated, ‘We’re done here,’ and proceeded to walk away.” 

“The fact that the officer did not provide a rationale for the stop… calls into question how the NYPD justifies its stops of New Yorkers and highlights the need for greater transparency to ensure they are constitutional,” Salaam added, according to WNBC and WABC. “This experience only amplified the importance of transparency for all police investigative stops, because the lack of transparency allows racial profiling and unconstitutional stops of all types to occur and often go unreported.”

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He later reportedly backed out of a scheduled ride along with police officers Saturday evening offered by Adams’ administration. 

NYC MAYOR ADAMS PRAISED BY POLICE UNION FOR ‘TAKING A STAND’ AGAINST BILL TO LOG EVERY POLICE ENCOUNTER

Adams, a Democrat, had encouraged City Council members to ride along with NYPD officers after vetoing proposed legislation, known as Intro. 586-A or the “How Many Stops Act,” which he and top police brass say could slow NYPD response times, undermine community-oriented policing, and add tens of millions of dollars in overtime to the NYPD budget. 

The mayor says the bill would force NYPD officers to spend more time on paperwork and filling out reports after Level 1 interactions with the public instead of patrolling the street and keeping the public safe.

But Salaam, one of five Black and Latino men wrongly imprisoned as teenagers in a 1989 Central Park jogger rape case, slammed the mayor for vetoing the legislation, claiming he is “sending the message that Black and Latino communities do not deserve transparency regarding interruptions to their daily lives from investigative police stops.” 

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams vowed on Friday to hold a vote Tuesday to override Mayor Adams’ veto of that bill and a second seeking to end solitary confinement.

“The Council has no interest in prolonging a conversation that has been made unnecessarily toxic by the spreading of fear and misinformation, and we plan to override the mayor’s recent vetoes on Tuesday,” she said. “The public dialogue fostered by officials at the highest levels of city government over the past several weeks has recklessly misled the public and sought to exploit fear in a way that is disappointing and unfortunate.” 

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