The NYPD is currently investigating a video posted to the Instagram account @newyorkcityuncut in which one bold man repurposes the back of a squad car as a convenient surface to divide up some weed.
In the clip, filmed in the Bushwick playground on Knickerbocker Avenue, the audacious man asks the person behind the camera, "You want an eighth?" As he does so, he uses a scale balanced on the cruiser's trunk to measure out a small pile of marijuana. The car's custodians are nowhere in sight: As the Daily News reports, they may have been on an assignment at the time.
The incident is internally viewed as a sign of massive disrespect for the NYPD, some sources indicated to the Daily News. Still, the person whom @newyorkcityuncut gave photo credit—David Jimenez—told the publication that he "wasn’t disrespecting anyone," and merely wanted to "break the ice" after a shooting in the same park left one dead and two injured days before.
"I appreciate everything the NYPD does for the good of the community," Jimenez told the Daily News, adding that the video does not depict any law-breaking because no money changes hands onscreen. (Gothamist has reached out to Jimenez, but had not heard back at time of publication.) But while Mayor Bill de Blasio moved to partially decriminalize marijuana back in June, it's not legal (yet). Starting in September, the NYPD will ticket, rather than arrest, some public weed smokers. As the New York Times reports, though, there are a few mitigating circumstances: People with outstanding arrest warrants; who are out on parole or probation; who have violent crime convictions; who don't have identification on their person; or who could be "considered a threat to the public" can still be taken into custody.
Currently, distributing less than 2 grams of weed can come with a $500 fine and a misdemeanor charge. Filming an exchange like this doesn't strike Erika Lorshbough, legislative counsel with the New York Civil Liberties Union, as an illegal action. What the police might decide to do with and about the possible drug deal remains a question with a subjective answer, though. No one discusses money, true, but "right now, we’re in August, and possessing marijuana is still a crime on the books if it’s in public view," Lorshbough says. "If law enforcement is feeling lenient, they could choose not to interact, not to enforce the law at all, [or] they could choose to issue a summons instead of making an arrest, [or] they could choose to make an arrest."
"The penalties really could range from nothing to a felony offense, or a series of felony offenses depending on the circumstances," she adds, noting that—while not impossible—"it would be really unexpected for the police to try to use such a video as evidence of an offense."
Aside from saying that they were investigating, the NYPD offered no information as to what the legal implications for such brazen, public drug division might be. The Daily News seems to view the stunt as part of a larger pattern of disregard for police authority, but Jimenez maintained that the whole thing was just "for laughs." We will update if we hear back from him.