Three-star NYPD Chief Douglas Zeigler, the highest ranking Black uniformed police officer & head of the Community Affairs Bureau since 2006, was approached by two white plainclothes New York City police officers with guns drawn as he sat near a fire hydrant in his NYPD-issued department issued SUV at 57th Ave. and Xenia St. in Corona about 7 p.m. on May 2, 2008.
Sources tell us that one of the plainclothes officers told him to roll down his heavily tinted windows and then ordered him to get out of the SUV. After Zeigler identified himself one of the officers did not believe the NYPD identification Zeigler gave him and got into a heated argument with him!
In his briefing to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Zeigler said the two cops, who are white, had no legitimate reason to approach his SUV.
The two police officers however, dispute the story. They said one of the officers spotted Zeigler’s service weapon through the rolled-down window, and yelled “Gun!” and that’s when they both raised their weapons and ordered the driver out of the car. Zeigler stated in his discussions with Kelly, that the officers never yelled “Gun!” The officers also stated that Zeigler did not identified himself as an armed member of the NYPD but instead shouted, “Don’t you know who I am?” One of the officers also stated that Zeigler pushed him away when he reached over to check the identification badge around his neck. Only then did Zeigler tell the two officers his name and rank. That cop was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on modified assignment.
“He dealt with the chief in a discourteous manner, which is unacceptable,” stated police spokesman Paul Browne. The status of the second officer was unclear.
“This is a stop and frisk issue,” Marq Claxton, of the 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, & co-host of Community Cop, said May 11 on a radio talk show. “He (Ziegler) was just seconds away from becoming the next Sean Bell”.
The incident occurred as the NYPD is under fire for record numbers of pedestrians being stopped and frisked, the majority of them black or Hispanic. Some 145,098 people were stopped by the NYPD in the first quarter of this year.
“Our people must learn to connect the dots, it does not matter what your social status is, it happens because we are Black,” said Claxton.