Eduardo Senderos was a Parking Control Specialist working for the New York City Department of Transportation. Now, they for NYPD, but a few years ago some worked for Transportation. Senderos was on his beat when he noticed a car at an expired meter. On the dashboard of the private car was an NYPD placard, 62nd precinct. Only problem was the car was not parked anywhere near the confines of the 62nd, nor did the car match the plate number on the placard. In other words, someone was using an NYPD placard to get free parking, illegally.
Senderos is about 5’3″ and 120 pounds, but he has a strong sense of equal justice. He wrote the guy a ticket. As he finished, someone comes running out, as it turns out, it’s Police Officer Kevin Newman. It’s his car, his personal car. He demands “courtesy” from Senderos, which as everyone knows is just a euphemism for “police are above the law”. Senderos says no, that civilians don’t get courtesy. Newman gets up in his face, and Senderos still refuses. As Senderos tries to de-escalate and walk away, Officer Newman punches him flush on the face, and handcuffs him, claiming Senderos assaulted him.
Sergeant Angelo Russo was called to the scene. He escorts Senderos away from the scene, still handcuffed, in the back of the car. The police at the 72nd Precinct in Brooklyn know something went wrong. They know that Officer Newman should not have punched and arrested Senderos. But, it seems, they panicked. After all, this wasn’t a civilian on civilian assault, which would simply result in the arrest of the criminal. A cop was the perpetrator of the crime, and cops don’t arrest cops.
They held Senderos, against his will, for seven hours at the precinct, trying to figure out what to do. Eventually, he’s interviewed by Internal Affairs and released. Officer Newman was not arrested and prosecuted for Assault, as he should have been. No. But we are happy to report that soon after this incident, Police Officer Kevin Newman left the force. And Eduardo Senderos, battered, bloodied and bruised, came to our office days after the incident. We represented him in a civil rights lawsuit alleging police brutality and false arrest. He obtained a substantial settlement, which we hope went part of the way in achieving some justice for Eduardo.
Police Officer Kevin Newman screwed up big time, no doubt. But the bigger issue is why does a police officer feel so entitled not to get a parking ticket? So entitled in fact that he assaults and arrests the man that wrote the ticket? We think the answer is in the culture of the police department. There is a police facility in our neighborhood, and the cops that come and go park everywhere with impunity. On the sidewalks, in front of fire hydrants, anywhere they can stick their car completely without regard for safety, traffic, or the law. Cops expect impunity when they break the law. That is the culture that creates cops like Officer Newman. That is the culture that WE must change in OUR police department.