Cop broke NYPD rules by hitting ‘record’ button when irate lieutenant yelled at him — and broke new ground
NEW YORK - When his lieutenant was physically assaulted in a work-related argument, a young NYPD officer pressed the record button on his body-worn camera - breaking new ground in the use and regulation of cameras.
Officer Christopher Schroeck, 28, turned on the body cam to record Lieutenant Jeffery Gurley in the station building of Lower Manhattan Public Service Area 4 on May 31.
Gurley, 41, admitted putting his hands on the young officer's camera when he yelled at him about being late.
The body cam video received by the New York Daily News shows the end of the explosion, with Gurley gesturing and pointing angrily at Schroeck.
At one point, Gurley mimicked Shroeck's gait and compared his gait to that of the animated character Shrek, a source said. There is no sound in this part of the video, but Gurley's imitation can be clearly seen.
"Which are you going to do? Which one will you do Will you record me with your camera? ”Asks the excited Gurley. "Good. Good, because you know what: You shouldn't take me in."
The NYPD's Patrol Guide prevents police officers from activating their body cameras in non-enforcement situations and from filming routine activities in departmental facilities.
But that rule might not apply in Schroeck's case, as Gurley's yelling gave him a good reason to turn on the camera, said Douglas Wigdor, a workplace discrimination attorney.
"If we accept that the officer feels threatened, that could break the ban," said Wigdor.
"The policy prohibits recording, but not recording when you feel threatened," said Jack Jaskaran, a retired NYPD captain who is now an attorney. “If the lieutenant shows physical behavior, he is no longer a superior. He is a threat and it is a duty to document it. "
"The better question is, 'Why did the manager act like this?" "Added Derek Smith, another labor lawyer. "I would tell (the NYPD) to stop distracting attention from it."
"It seems to me that technology is introduced for one purpose and then used for all sorts of unintended purposes, and I don't know why that doesn't apply to the police," said Peter Brill, an attorney who represents police officers on disciplinary issues.
Wigdor noted that while Schroeck's use of the camera violates the NYPD Patrol Guide, it is consistent with New York State law. In a conversation, "you can take someone in without their consent," he said.
The argument began when Schroeck was late for his post in Public Service Area 4, which patrols residential projects in Lower Manhattan.
Gurley is said to have pushed Schroeck before the camera was turned on. An audio delay is also integrated in the bodycams so that no sound can be heard in the first minute of the one-minute, 22-second video.
But the video shows Gurley and Schroeck in the Safe Horizons room of the station building, where victims of domestic violence and youth are interviewed. While there are cameras throughout the district, this room doesn't have cameras.
"There was no reason to take him to a remote room with no cameras," Jaskaran said.
After Schroeck turned on the camera and the argument was moved from the Safe Horizons room to a common room, Gurley threatened to write to him for violating the rules of using the camera.
"Guess what - now you get a CD (command discipline quote) to record when you're not supposed to," Gurley said. “You get a CD for this. I hope that's in front of the camera. "
Then Gurley reached for Schroeck.
“Don't put your hands on me, will you?” Schröck protested.
"I don't touch you," Gurley said.
“You touched me,” said Schroeck.
"No I did not. I touched your camera. I touched your camera, ”Gurley shot back. "You got a CD (command discipline) for rudeness. Goodbye!"
“Definitely,” said Schroeck.
"Good-bye, sir. Good-bye, sir," Gurley said.
Gurley and a sergeant named Lachard then beat Schroeck with command disciplines for rudeness for being absent from the post and not signing the patrol protocol, sources said.
Over the next few days, a contrite Gurley told police officers at roll call how much he appreciated their work, sources said.
Schroeck declined to comment. Gurley referred a call to the NYPD media office.
"The incident is being investigated internally," said a police spokeswoman.
Both cops remain assigned to PSA 4.
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