Jacob Geanous, New York Post, June 24, 2023
A white undercover cop claims his colleagues of color refused to give him backup during violent confrontations with suspects because of his race, forcing him to quit the force in fear for his life.
NYPD Detective John Olsen, a former Marine, said he could have been killed at least twice after Hispanic, Asian and black cops working with him stood idly by while he was attacked twice during drug buys gone awry in 2019, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
“I genuinely felt like my life was in jeopardy if I continued,” Olsen, 34, told The Post. “They did everything in their power to make it miserable for me.”
The red flags appeared almost immediately, he said.
While training for undercover work, Olsen said he was the only white officer.
A senior detective ominously commented: “A white undercover, this will be fun.”
Within his first few months on the job, Olsen said he was surrounded and punched in the face in front of a car full of detectives during a drug buy in Harlem.
The other detectives photographed the attack but did not intervene because they didn’t want to risk “being tainted by association with a white undercover,” Olsen said in court papers.
Undercover detectives are required to have another officer nearby, called a “ghost,” who can jump in when danger arises, Olsen said. But he was often ghosted by his ghost.
In July 2019, Olsen said he was forced to chase down and fight a drug dealer who pulled a knife on him in Hamilton Heights.
“My life was in danger and I know that no one is coming to save me because of that last time so I had to do what I had to do,” Olsen said.
His colleagues were offered more overtime opportunities, Olsen said, adding that his bosses made “his life as uncomfortable as possible” including a superior who made a comment about his military service.
“I did not expect that at all,” Olsen added. “He said it was because I was a military guy, but I think it was also because I was a white undercover and they were trying to get rid of me.”
He resigned in May 2022, despite being 13 years short of a full NYPD pension.