A member of Mayor de Blasio's transition team was released from jail after a top NYPD official received a phone call from the mayor inquiring about the arrest.
Bishop Orlando Findlayter, pastor of Brooklyn's New Hope Christian Church, was arrested after he was pulled over for making a left turn without signaling at the intersection of Clarkson Avenue and East 92nd Street in Brooklyn. The Wall Street Journal reports that after running his license info, officers discovered that Findlayter had two arrest warrants issued last month for failing to appear in court, and he was arrested.
The bishop had been arrested at an immigration reform protest in October, but apparently he never paid the fine. On Monday, he was charged with "aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle in the third degree and making an illegal left turn." But instead of spending the night in jail waiting to appear before a judge on Tuesday, Findlayter was released.
De Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak issued a statement saying, "The Mayor reached out to Deputy Chief Royster to get clarification on word that there had been an arrest of a respected local clergyman." Royster, who fielded the call from the mayor, tells the Journal, "We always get inquiries from the mayor's office, and the inquiry we received is if this individual was arrested or taken into custody. When I inquired about it, the commanding officer said he was taken into custody, arrested and was going to be given a desk appearance ticket."
Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr, who also said he knew the bishop, personally went to the 67th Precinct to assess the situation, and decided to release Findlayter on the condition that he return to court the next day to clear up the outstanding warrants. Findlayter agreed, adding that he believed his lawyers had previously taken care of the matter.
The NYPD insists Inspector Lehr was within his bounds to use his discretion to release Bishop Findlayther, but Sgt. Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, tells the Post: "If a guy has a warrant, you don’t let him go. Period. There is no discretion. What if you release him [and] he drives a block, blows a red light and runs somebody over and kills him? As a [police] supervisor, you have a lot to answer for. If you’re the mayor, I get it, you have friends. Is it supposed to happen? No - but don’t be hypocritical about it. De Blasio condemned the people involved in ticket fix. He passed judgment. You can’t have a double standard."