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NYPD Detective Who Screamed at Uber Driver Won't Be Fired: Sources

By  Danielle Tcholakian and Murray Weiss | April 1, 2015 2:57pm 

6th Precinct Uber Video
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YouTube/Sanjay Seth

WEST VILLAGE — The NYPD detective caught on video screaming obscenities at an Uber driver won't lose his job, but could lose up to 30 days pay, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Det. Patrick Cherry, a member of the elite Joint Terrorism Task Force who was formerly assigned to the NYPD's Arson and Explosives Unit, blew up at the driver when the cabby honked at him for attempting to park on the West Side Highway without signaling, according to statements made in a video of the incident.

Cherry won't be fired because verbal abuse of a civilian is not considered a fireable offense, sources said.

In the video, recorded by a passenger and uploaded to YouTube on Monday, Cherry berates the driver and demands to know how long the driver, who speaks with an accent, has been in the United States.

But Cherry claimed he saw only red after the driver drove up close behind his slow-moving car while he was cruising for a parking spot, then swerved around him, flipped him the bird, and mouthed "f— you," sources close to the detective said.

That's when Cherry flipped on his lights and sirens, and pulled him over, sources said.

Uber spokesman Matt Wing declined to respond to the accusations or make the driver available for an interview.

The passenger who recorded the video, Sanjay Seth, was expected to speak with investigators at the Civilian Complaint Review Board Wednesday afternoon, sources said. Seth did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment, and attempts to reach him through intermediaries were unsuccessful.

If the CCRB finds that the complaint against Cherry is valid, the detective will receive a permanent mark on his record. While he won't be dismissed, Cherry could face other punishment including loss of pay and vacation days.

This would not be the first complaint against Cherry for verbal abuse, sources said.

The detective, who has about 15 years on the force, has had about 10 complaints against him, some of which involve verbally abusing civilians, sources familiar with his record said.

The outcome of those complaints is unknown.

Cherry was also at one point hauled before a judge over a complaint regarding an arrest, but he was acquitted in a departmental trial, sources said.

Even if Cherry goes before a CCRB judge for the incident with the Uber driver, and the judge finds him guilty of misconduct, the judge's decision is sent to Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who can accept or reject the judge's finding, sources said.

The guilty finding would stay on Cherry's record, along with the substantiation of the complaint, but any punishment ultimately rests with the commissioner, sources said.

The most severe penalty Cherry would face, sources said, would be the loss of 20 to 30 vacation days or about a month's pay. Sources said at Cherry's pay grade, that would amount to about $10,000.

But Cherry also could be removed from his elite command working alongside federal agents in the JTTF, sources said.

Sources close to the detective said he has apologized to his friends, family and colleagues since his tirade was exposed on YouTube on Monday.

Cherry admits that he went off the rails, the sources said, and that his behavior was inappropriate.

"He’s sorry about it, he’s embarrassed by it," a source said.

It was unclear whether Cherry has made any attempts to apologize to the driver.

The president of the NYPD detectives union released a statement "pointing out that cops are just like everyone else."

"They have families, friends, and other things going on in their lives, too, that may affect their behavior at times," said Detectives Endowment Association President Mike Palladino in the statement. "I am not trying to minimize the significance of what occurred. There is no disputing that we are held to a higher standard and that is why this incident is so newsworthy."

But Palladino defended Cherry as "a person of good character and an excellent detective." 

"He really should not be judged by one isolated incident,” the union boss said.