How Not To Apologize: Detective Pat Cherry Of The NYPD’s Joint Terrorism Task Force Edition

Undercover cop (and former member of the FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorism Task Force) Patrick Cherry couldn’t handle a civilian being uppity. So, he ranted and raved at an Uber driver, who had the temerity to suggest Detective Cherry signal his intention to park his vehicle (via a nonoffensive hand gesture), peppering his unrehearsed speech with obscenities and racial slurs.

Patrick Cherry may have been an elite detective (Commissioner Bill Bratton stripped him of his badge, gun and task force position after the incident), but he failed to arrive at one very obvious conclusion before he started slinging slurs and swear words: almost everyone carries a cellphone and almost every cellphone contains a camera. The entire incident was recorded by a passenger.

With this undeniable evidence that Detective Cherry is willing to abuse his position to threaten other drivers for questioning his driving skills/actions, the NYPD (and Cherry himself) had no option but to address it. As mentioned above, Commissioner Bratton kicked Cherry of the joint task force.

Of course, the detective’s union boss felt compelled to blast Bratton for this “unprecedented punishment” in response to a “verbal discourtesy,” perhaps inadvertently signalling that any punishment of NYPD detectives is “unprecedented.” For reasons that only make sense to Detectives Endowment Association head Michael Palladino, he chose to compare this incident favorably to recent, high-profile officer-involved deaths.

“This is neither Ferguson nor Staten Island, but it is receiving equal attention.”

Again, perhaps inadvertently signalling that any negative attention paid to his union’s members is too much attention.

Commissioner Bratton fired back by stating the obvious.

“No good cop can watch that without a wince,” Bratton said when he announced Cherry’s punishment. “That officer’s behavior reflected poorly on everyone who wears that uniform.”

The supposed state-of-emergency level of attention also forced Patrick Cherry to offer an apology for his behavior. But his “apology” deserves every scare quote appended to it.

“I apologize. I sincerely apologize,” he said. “People shouldn’t be treated that way. I let my emotions get the better of me and I was angry. My intention was to be courteous and then we got into an argument. There was no intention to berate or hurt deeply the driver.”

It may not have been Cherry’s “intention” to “berate or hurt deeply” the person on the other end of his rant, but that’s what actually happened. Cherry may not always be angry and unhinged, but the video shows how little it takes to set him off. And if the video hadn’t existed, Cherry would still be a badge-carrying member of an elite task force — free to berate and hurt other citizens until outed on YouTube.

But then Cherry went on to blame his victim — and for the lousiest reason: contempt of special FBI joint terrorism task force detective.

Cherry told the network he pulled over the Uber driver to “clarify the problem” and that the driver “got smart” when Cherry asked for his license and registration.

“When I walked up, I was uptight. I wanted to know what the problem was. What did I do that was so wrong that I had to get chastised?” Cherry said. “I felt his driving actions were discourteous and impolite and when he stopped he said, ‘I’m not going to give you anything.”‘

All the driver asked was what he was being pulled over for. And Cherry refused to answer, choosing instead to berate the driver for not being a purebred American, among other things. If someone refuses to provide identification to an officer, it’s well within their rights, unless the officer can give them a better reason than “because I said so.” And if they are required to turn over identification, there are remedies for that, none of which involve banging on a vehicle and yelling at its driver.

Not only that, but being “discourteous and impolite” isn’t a crime. If it was, New York City’s jails would be even more well-stocked than they already are. It’s just that some law enforcement officers believe it is, and will throw out a barrage of BS charges in hopes that one sticks.

This “apology” shows Cherry either isn’t used to people questioning his authority or isn’t capable of handling these situations with any amount of professionalism. His non-apology “apology” simply provides more evidence that Bratton’s “unprecedented” decision to strip him of his badge and power was the correct thing to do.

The right way to apologize for an incident like this is to stop after you’ve admitted your actions were wrong and reflect badly on yourself and your position. Adding “but you have to understand, the guy was being a jerk” just makes you look like one of those people who routinely blame others for their own failings.

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