A New York City Police officer has been charged with a federal civil rights violation after prosecutors said he used a racial slur while bragging that he had falsely charged a black man with resisting arrest. The man was detained last spring in Staten Island as part of the department's controversial stop-and-frisk policy.
"I fried another nigger," Officer Michael Daragjati, who's been with the NYPD for eight years, said in a conversation with a friend after his phone was tapped. "Another nigger fried, no big deal."
Federal prosecutors tapped Daragjati's cell phone during an investigation for an unrelated insurance fraud case when investigators heard him bragging to a female friend about falsely charging a man with resisting arrest.
The New York Times sums up the investigation:
A search of the man revealed no contraband, but after he complained about his treatment and asked for the officer's badge number, Officer Daragjati arrested him and charged him with resisting arrest, telling him that he did not like being disrespected, prosecutors said.
Officer Daragjati then wrote in a police report that the man had flailed his arms and kicked his legs during the arrest, causing the man to be detained for about 36 hours, according to a federal complaint.
The next day, the government intercepted a phone call between Officer Daragjati and a female friend in which the officer complained that he had just gotten out of court on the stop-and-frisk case, but that it had been worth the hassle.
"I sat there for a couple of hours by the time I got it all done but, fried another nigger," the officer says on a transcript provided by prosecutors. "What?" The woman asks. Officer Daragjati uses the same phrase and then adds, "no big deal." The woman laughs.
Officer Daragjati was charged with a misdemeanor civil rights violation that carries a sentence of up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000, prosecutors said.
Allegations of racism in NYPD's stop-and-frisk program are nothing new. A New York Times investigation last year found that in neighborhoods like Brooklyn's Brownsville, police made nearly 52,000 stops in an eight-block radius over just four years but just one percent of the stops yielded arrests. 93 out of every 100 residents were stopped by police in Brownsville, a predominantly African-American community that's dense with public housing.
Laws permitting stop-and-frisk come out of a Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio, which allowed police to stop and frisk citizens when they had reasonable suspicion that a crime had been or was about to be committed. But advocates say few departments use the Supreme Court's ruling stop as extensively as the NYPD.
In 2010 Colorlines.com visited Brownsville and spoke to young men about being profiled by the NYPD. You can watch the video and for further reading on racial profiling read "Voices from Brooklyn: Racial Profiling's Part of Everyday Life Here."