An NYPD officer will spend 15 days in jail for breaking into a black woman's home, shouting racist slurs, and threatening to kill her. But just two weeks before he's set to report to jail, and nearly a year and a half after the NYPD first learned of the crime, the officer remains a paid employee of the New York City police department. [UPDATE: Reynolds resigned on Thursday, a police spokesperson confirmed; scroll down for a full statement.]
Michael Reynolds, 26, was sentenced last month on assault and trespassing charges, after barging into Conese Halliburton's home last summer, believing it to be the Airbnb he'd rented to celebrate a fellow cop's bachelor party. Surveillance footage shows Reynolds drunkenly threatening the frightened family: "Try to shoot me. I'll break every bone in your fucking neck. You fucking n-gger."
According to prosecutors, a friend who accompanied Reynolds to the doorstep can be heard asking, "Did you make her strip?"
Reynolds, a Manhattan patrol officer in Washington Heights, pled no contest and apologized for the "accident," claiming he had no memory of the evening. During his sentencing, he made the case that he should not receive any jail time, since it might hurt his prospects of returning to the job.
"No question that his judgement was suspect here, but one incident shouldn't necessarily cause somebody to lose their career," Reynolds' attorney, Edward Yarbrough, told Gothamist.
Halliburton, meanwhile, says Reynolds knew exactly what he was doing—and even returned to the home the following day, along with other NYPD officers on the stag trip, to tell her she was making a big deal out of nothing. She says the incident was traumatizing, all the more so because the person who terrorized her still has a job.
"Michael Reynolds is a violent and dangerous racist who has no business carrying either a badge or a gun," Daniel Horwitz, an attorney for the Halliburton family, said in a statement. "Ms. Halliburton wants the NYPD to fire him immediately so that he can't hurt anyone else, and we are all frankly dumbfounded that that has not happened already."
Reynolds received a 30 day suspension and was placed on modified duty, according to NYPD spokesperson Jessica McRorie. Amid growing outrage about Reynold's continued employment, including a New Year's Day rally, the spokesperson added that a disciplinary process is moving forward and that he'll be questioned imminently.
According to Reynolds's testimony, the NYPD's Internal Affairs department was first made aware of the allegations within a month of the July 2018 incident.
The court documents also include the testimony of multiple witnesses, who say that Reynolds and his buddies showed up the day after the break-in and attempted to convince Halliburton it was no big deal.
"They were laughing at her as she was visibly upset," recalled Justin Roddick, a neighbor who says he witnessed the conversation.
One of the men with Reynolds "turned to me and said, 'Look, we're just a couple cops trying to have a good time,'" he added. "Another guy laughed and said he had immunity, and then they all said we have immunity."
Attorneys identified the person leading that "bullying" as Thomas Geberth, an NYPD officer in the Bronx. Reynolds testified that Gerberth and another unnamed officer were docked vacation days as a result of their actions.
NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the police department should be forced to account for the officers' conduct, and their own handling of the disciplinary process.
"Who were the police officers that were with him?" Williams asked during a rally with activists outside One Police Plaza on Wednesday. "Why did they allow this to happen? Those are questions that we deserve to have answers to."
"There was a crime that occurred, and we can all agree on this: that crime should mean that you are no longer a member of the NYPD," he added.
A spokesperson for the NYPD did not respond to inquiries about the other officers involved, or when the department first became aware of the incident.
UPDATE: Reynolds has resigned. A spokesperson for the NYPD confirmed the resignation, which came the same day that he was scheduled to report to NYPD headquarters for the start of the official disciplinary process.
"Instead, he has quit the New York City Police Department effective immediately," said NYPD spokesperson Devorah Kaye. "He will receive no pension or health benefits, nor will he be allowed to carry a firearm. His actions are wholly inconsistent with the values and standards the New York City Police Department expects and demands of its officers.”
Inquiries to the Police Benevolent Association, Reynolds' union, were not returned.
Additional reporting by Danny Lewis.