MANHATTAN — A police inspector who was friends with one of the targets of a federal corruption probe involving the NYPD and City Hall committed suicide Friday afternoon, the department confirmed.
Inspector Michael Ameri, 44, was friendly with Jeremy Reichberg, one of two Brooklyn businessmen at the center of the corruption probe involving high-ranking police officials accused of accepting gifts in exchange for favors, sources said.
The officer was found in a department vehicle on Bergen Avenue near the Bergen Point Golf Course in West Babylon just before 1 p.m. with a gunshot wound to the head, NYPD spokesman Steven Davis and sources said. It is believed that he used his service revolver.
He's suspected of giving police escorts to Reichberg and his friends, and was one of the first officers questioned by federal authorities, sources said.
FBI investigators interviewed Ameri recently regarding the corruption probe, sources said.
NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau also pulled two years worth of escort records on Thursday, sources said.
"I don't understand why anyone would commit suicide over this," a source said. "We escort all the time. It's a courtesy we do all the time. It's no reason to kill yourself."
The Highway Division integrity control officer, who oversees quality control, tried to submit paperwork for retirement last week, but was told he would not be able to do so.
Ameri was friends with Reichberg and had been to his house, sources said.
Ameri, who is divorced with a teenage son, led the NYPD's Highway Division and spearheaded the pope's motorcade.
The president of the NYPD Captains Endowment Association, Roy Richter, described Ameri as a "dedicated police officer" who excelled in all his assignments.
"We are heartbroken at the loss of Michael Ameri and ask that you keep his family in your prayers during this traumatic time," Richter said in a statement about the inspector, who was a representative with the union.
Suffolk County Police confirmed that they were investigating a non-criminal death on Bergen Avenue that happened about 12:40 p.m.
Credit: DNAinfo/Tom Prendergast
Ameri, who was once the 78th Precinct commander, spent about two decades in law enforcement.
"Being in law enforcement almost 20 years, I've realized law enforcement can't do their job without the community," Ameri told DNAinfo New York in 2012.
He was promoted to deputy inspector a short time later and put in charge of the Highway Division in 2014.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he "saddened" to hear about Ameri.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time,” the mayor said.