Karen Matthews, AP, May 12, 2008
Civil rights advocates said Sunday that a recent incident in which a high-ranking black police official was ordered out of his car by a white officer points out ongoing racial problems in the city’s Police Department.
Chief Douglas Zeigler, the head of the NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau and the highest uniformed black officer on the force, was off duty and sitting in his department-issued SUV on a Queens street May 2 when two white police officers approached the vehicle and confronted him.
The details of what happened next aren’t completely clear, but a department spokesman confirmed a report in the Daily News that the encounter turned testy, and one of the officers tried to open Zeigler’s door, even after the three-star chief had identified himself.
The officer, Michael Granahan, was stripped of his gun and badge Friday pending a departmental investigation.
Granahan’s father, Richard, blamed Zeigler for the incident. He told the Daily News for an article in Sunday’s editions that Zeigler was parked at a hydrant in Corona, Queens, with the SUV’s windows rolled up and the engine off.
The father said that Granahan’s partner saw the driver fumble at his waistband and hollered, “Gun!” As Granahan grabbed the door handle, Zeigler stepped out and “smacked Michael’s hand,” Richard Granahan said.
Zeigler’s wife, Neldra, is the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for equal employment opportunity.