One of the two police officers who confronted the Empire State Building shooting suspect yesterday has been in the news before. Officer Craig Matthews had unsuccessfully sued the NYPD for requiring cops to fulfill quotas for arrests, summons and traffic stops.
Earlier this year, a federal judge had dismissed the case, claiming that since Matthews was a public employee and essentially complaining about his duties and workplace, his speech was simply job-related and not protected by the First Amendment. The NYCLU, which had filed the lawsuit on Matthews' behalf, had argued that the quota system had an "impact on the management of other officers, the precinct and the community," and called the judge's decision "disastrous for the public’s ability to learn about hidden police scandals."
Matthews, a 14-year veteran, usually works in the Bronx, but as the NY Times reports he and fellow officer from the Bronx, Robert Sinishtaj, were "working a tour as part of the Police Department’s counterterrorism deployment at high-profile locations. The duty normally entails helping tourists and the like, and as New Yorkers trickled into work shortly after 9 a.m." Matthews and Sinishtaj followed Jeffrey Johnson, who had allegedly just killed his ex-boss Steve Ercolino at 10 West 33rd Street, onto Fifth Avenue right in front of the Empire State Building. Video shows Johnson aiming at the police and then Matthews and Sinishtaj fire back, killing Johnson. It's believed that police fired around 16 shots, nine of them hitting civilians.
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