BROOKLYN — The NYPD lieutenant involved in the questionable arrest of a Brooklyn mailman was stripped of his gun and badge Thursday and placed on desk duty, sources told DNAinfo New York.
The development came just a day after Police Commissioner Bill Bratton expressed “strong concerns” over the March 17 encounter, and after Lt. Luis Machado and officers Lazo Lluka, Miguel Rodriguez and David Savella were grilled by NYPD investigators.
The four are set to be harshly disciplined, sources say, and Machado in particular for allowing a minor verbal clash to escalate into a troublesome arrest.
Sources familiar with the probe believe Machado, a former Marine who saw combat in Iraq, will take the heaviest hit because “the supervisor is the one who should dictate the situation,” a well-placed source explained.
“He is the boss and he is [the] one who controls what occurs,” the source said, predicting Machado, an 11-year veteran, could lose as much as a year’s vacation, but not his job, which was something even the mailman, Glenn Grays, said he did not want to occur.
Police said the four officers were in plainclothes assigned to addressing an undisclosed “condition” in the precinct that required NYPD attention.
The clash started when Grays, 27, stepped out of the back of his double-parked postal truck in Crown Heights and was nearly clipped by what turned out to be an unmarked NYPD car with the officers inside.
Grays and the officers initially engaged in an expletive-laced exchanged before the police got out of their car and eventually forced Grays across the street and against a wall, where the ongoing back-and-forth was caught on video.
Machado can be seen with his hat on backward during the confrontation as a crowd began to grow on the street.
At one point, Grays can be heard saying his wife is “on the job,” meaning she’s an NYPD officer. But the plainclothes officers said they didn’t care, adding they are talking to him and not his wife.
Sources say Grays’ wife works in the NYPD security detail that protects Adams.
“The most important tool an officer has is his ability to use his language and diffuse things rather than allow it to escalate,” another source explained, “particularly when the testosterone levels are beginning to rise.”
The lieutenant eventually gave the green-light for Grays' arrest for disorderly conduct, which required him to be handcuffed, patted down and then taken to the precinct, where he was given a summons and finally released several hours later.
His mail truck, meanwhile, remained double-parked on busy President Street, apparently without the officers notifying an NYPD tow truck or the U.S. Postal Service to remove it to unclog the street and safeguard its contents.
In a related development, the NYPD early Thursday issued a department-wide reminder to lieutenants serving as “operations supervisors,” as Machado was, that they are required to be in uniform unless they are filling in on an anti-crime details, which would require special “plainclothes training.”
The case will likely be heard by the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which will pass its findings to the NYPD, sources say.
Last year, Machado and five other officers were honored for capturing a serial armed robber who critically wounded at least one of his victims, and fired on the police before he was taken into custody.