New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton has voiced "strong concerns" about a black mailman's arrest after a brief confrontation with four plainclothes police officers, the New York Times reports.
Bratton acknowledged Tuesday that the officers involved in the arrest belonged to the Police Department's Conditions Unit, which functions as a neighborhood-based troubleshooting division. Members of that unit are expected to work in uniform, which the officers who arrested mail carrier Glen Grays on March 17 were not doing. Bratton announced that after the controversial arrest, during which Grays was accused of disorderly conduct, the officers were removed from their assignments and put on patrol, pending an internal-affairs investigation. The officers were identified as Lt. Luis D. Machado, Lazo Lluka, Miguel I. Rodriguez and David G. Savella.
“Part of the investigation into that incident will be why were they in plainclothes—for what purpose, who authorized it,” Bratton added. The commissioner also voiced "strong concerns" about the charges against Grays after he saw additional footage of the arrest that authorities obtained.
The arrest, which ended with Grays being escorted to a police car and forced to leave his postal vehicle unattended, is reportedly raising questions about potential violations of federal law pertaining to the interruption of mail delivery, the Times notes. A U.S. Postal Service representative noted in an email to the Times last week that its Office of Inspector General was looking into the matter.
Bratton confirmed that the fact that the unsecured truck was left double-parked on a busy street during the arrest "would be a significant issue of concern in terms of the investigation going forward."
According to the Times, at least three of the officers involved in Grays' arrest have been named in federal civil rights suits pertaining to claims including false arrest over the past six years. Lluka, along with six other officers, was named in a suit two years ago that resulted in the city settling with plaintiffs to the tune of $140,000 in damages and $75,000 in legal fees.
The settlement pertained to an April 2009 case in which Lluka went to an apartment building in Brooklyn where other officers were dealing with a noise complaint involving a brother and a sister, both of them black.
The woman refused to let the officers into her apartment without a search warrant, telling them that there were children present. That was when, the suit claims, Lluka and two others "slammed her into a wall, threw her to the ground, kneed her on her back and handcuffed her." A fourth officer reportedly struck her brother in the head with a baton when he tried to explain that there had been a misunderstanding.
Read more at the New York Times.