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New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton publicly apologized Wednesday to the Uber driver who was subjected to an expletive-filled and xenophobic roadside rant by an NYPD officer. The incident was caught on a cellphone camera and went viral after it was uploaded to social media this week.
The officer involved, identified as Patrick Cherry, is also a member of the FBI's top-secret Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) — an elite, multi-agency team headquartered in New York. Bratton told reporters Wednesday that the department has placed Cherry on modified duty and taken him off the task force. The officer was also required to surrender his gun and badge, according to the New York Post.
"I want to extend an apology to the driver of that vehicle and the two passengers in that vehicle for the behavior of that officer," Bratton said at a press conference. "That officer's behavior reflected poorly on everyone who wears our uniform."
Video of the incident, shot by a passenger from the back seat of the car, shows the detective shouting at the driver and accusing him of committing "three traffic and law violations." The driver and passenger remain fairly calm throughout the incident.
Cherry also mocks the driver's accent and screams obscenities at him.
"I don't know what fucking planet you think you're on right now," the cop yells before slamming the car door and walking away briefly. He then returns with a traffic ticket and berates the driver again, demanding to know how long he's been in the country.
At one point the detective said he would arrest the driver but isn't going to "because I have things to do… This isn't important enough for me. You're not important enough."
The passenger, Sanjay Seth, who uploaded the video, claims the Uber driver did nothing wrong, except honk his horn as the detective attempted to park his unmarked without signaling.
"It's not your fault, this guy is just a dick," Seth says calmly in the video. "He's on a power trip right now."
Bratton said the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau is currently investigating the matter.
"In that kind of encounter, anger like that is unacceptable. In any kind of encounter, discourtesy like that and language like that is unacceptable," he said. "No good cop can watch that without a wince. All good cops know that the officer just made their jobs a little bit harder."
Uber issued a statement that called Cherry's behavior "wrong and unacceptable," and expressed appreciation to the NYPD for investigating the incident.
"We are in touch with our driver-partner who was subjected to this terrible experience and will continue to provide any support he needs," Uber said.