BUSHWICK — Police have thwarted a woman's attempt to report a neighborhood man who masturbated in front of her twice and harassed her on other occasions, saying it would be a waste of her time to file a report, she claimed.
Bushwick resident and Uber driver Cecily Witcher, 38, said she was so afraid of what the man would do next that she bought pepper spray because she is losing faith that police from the 83rd Precinct will do anything to help.
"It's just a matter of time before something major happens to some innocent person," she said.
The man, who appears to be in his 20s, first masturbated in front of Witcher last May as she parked her car near Madison Avenue and Palmetto Street late one night after her shift. The suspect stepped in front of her parked vehicle, looking as if he was going to cross the street, she recalled.
“He stopped in front of my car, he pulled his penis out and he started jacking off in front of my car," Witcher said. "I was scared. I just got out of my car. I crossed the street. I never let him see I’d actually seen him because I didn't want to give him that type of satisfaction.”
When she tried to report the matter to police the next day, officers wouldn't take her report.
"They said they wouldn't do a report because they said it would be a waste of time. They didn't have any information on him, I didn't have his picture," she remembered. "The police were like, 'Next time get a picture of him.' That’s what they told me at the precinct.”
Witcher then had several encounters with the man after the May incident, including one instance in which he charged at her when she saw him in the street, she said. It was enough to get her to buy Mace and pepper spray online to defend herself in case anything more severe happened.
"I'm not living in fear," she said.
Then, on Tuesday morning, the man exposed himself for a second time in front of Witcher near the intersection of Putnam and Central while glaring at her from across the street.
"He looks at me. I see him. I'm looking at my phone. He pulls out his penis and he's just playing with his penis, just standing there. So I was like, 'OK, what do you do?'
"I was really nervous. I couldn't find the camera on the phone, then I found the camera, I zoomed in as close as I could and then I called 911."
The man must have seen her take a picture, she said, because he walked off. When officers arrived at the scene, they again told her that reporting the incident to police was a waste of time, even though she had a picture of the perpetrator red-handed, as previously instructed by police.
"You should have called us first so we could have caught him in the act," Witcher said a responding officer told her at the scene. "I could write it up, but it's going to be a waste of time. It's going to be a waste of time because no one is going to follow up. We have to catch him in the act."
The officer said police would increase patrols around the area to see if they could catch the man harassing someone else.
Officers did not tell Witcher they had filed a report, which was downgraded from a case handled by detectives to one handled by patrol units, a police spokeswoman said.
The 83rd Precinct's Deputy Inspector Sergio Centa was reviewing the incident, according to police.