The N.Y.P.D. Pulled Over a City Councilman. Now Both Are Under Fire.

Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five, said the officer who stopped him should have explained why. Some officials said Mr. Salaam had used his position to avoid a ticket.
January 29, 2024
Jeffery C. Mays and Emma G. Fitzsimmons
New York Times

Yusef Salaam, the newly elected New York City Council member who was wrongfully convicted in 1990 as a member of the Central Park Five, was in Harlem on Friday night, driving downtown to dinner with his wife and four of his children, when the flashing lights of a police car appeared behind him.

He pulled over. An officer walked toward his car, asking him to roll down the tinted windows. When the officer reached the driver’s side, Mr. Salaam identified himself as a councilman. The officer asked Mr. Salaam if he was working; Mr. Salaam replied that he was and asked why he had been stopped.

The officer did not answer but sent Mr. Salaam on his way. “Take care, sir,” the officer said.

The stop soon prompted outrage, with Mr. Salaam, who represents Harlem and was recently named chair of the Council’s public safety committee, and his allies saying that it demonstrated the importance of police transparency when stopping New Yorkers. Other elected officials viewed it as an example of a City Council member’s invoking his position to try to get out of a ticket.

The police quickly released body camera footage of the stop, as well as a statement that said Mr. Salaam had been stopped because his car had illegally tinted windows. The statement also noted that the car had a Georgia license plate. Mayor Eric Adams defended the stop as “a picture-perfect example” of a professional and courteous police response.

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