WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — An NYPD officer of a local precinct was arrested last week for unlawfully searching a woman and falsifying documents earlier this year, officials said.
Jonathan Munoz, an officer of the 34th Precinct, was on patrol when he arrested a 21-year-old man and searched a 20-year-old woman on the corner of 183rd Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue, according to the Manhattan District Attorney.
Munoz, who's been on the force since 2006, claimed he suspected the woman was purchasing marijuana, when he searched and investigated her. This then prompted the man to enter a "‘fighting stance’ before lunging and swinging a fist at [Munoz],” according to documents the officer filed with the NYPD and DA’s office.
But surveillance video obtained by the DA shows the officer unlawfully searched the woman as she stood on the sidewalk, and the man never lunged at Munoz, as the officer had reported to his supervisors, according to the DA.
"Had this officer's attempts to conceal his alleged misconduct succeeded, an innocent man may still be facing charges for a fabricated crime," said District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in a statement. "Illegal searches and unlawful arrests go against the years of training each NYPD officer receives, erode the public's confidence in law enforcement and will be prosecuted by my Office's Public Corruption Unit."
Munoz's lawyer, Stephen Worth, did not return a call for comment.
The officer pleaded not guilty to all charges and is due back in court on March 11.