A high-ranking NYPD officer, who was reportedly questioned in connection with the FBI's wide-ranging investigation into possible corruption in the police department and City Hall, has committed suicide. Inspector Michael Ameri, head of the department's Highway Patrol, shot himself inside a vehicle at the Bergen Point Golf Course in West Bablyon on Long Island early this afternoon, according to the Daily News.
The NYPD's press office confirmed that Ameri was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Babylon this afternoon. A Suffolk County Police Department spokeswoman said homicide detectives were called to the road the golf course is on at around 12:30 p.m.
Ameri was promoted in 2014 to the post overseeing traffic enforcement and crash investigations citywide from commanding officer of Park Slope's 78th Precinct, where he made a name for himself as the most visible practitioner of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero traffic safety initiative. Within just a few months of the campaign being announced, Ameri had rolled out a series of initiatives aimed at stopping reckless drivers, including a sting operation targeting cars failing to yield to pedestrians, and crackdowns on unlicensed dollar van drivers, and drivers parking in bike lanes. He also created community meetings devoted to traffic safety, to complement monthly community council meetings where crime is the focus.
Streetsblog founder Aaron Naparstek praised Ameri on Twitter:
— Aaron Naparstek (@Naparstek) May 13, 2016
Once he had taken the roads job, street safety advocates pushed Ameri further, calling for him to press charges more often, investigate more aggressively, and keep officers from victim-blaming in the early stages of crash cases.
Ameri joined the NYPD in 1993, according to the News, meaning he had met the 20 years required to be eligible for retirement with a lifetime pension.
At least nine NYPD cops have been demoted in connection with the FBI's investigation, which reportedly focuses on two businessmen plying high-ranking officers with trips and money in return for favors, as well as a leader of a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood patrol group in Brooklyn who was arrested for allegedly bribing officers to obtain gun licenses for others.
Ameri had not been publicly named as a target in the investigation up to this point.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255, or take the person to an emergency room, or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.