NYPD's Failure To Remove A Vehicle From Its Stolen Car Database Results In Another Citizen Staring Down The Barrel Of Several Guns

from the thanks-for-all-the-help,-professionals! dept

The only person singing the praises of the Darien (CT) Police Department is the person who was ordered out of his own vehicle at gunpoint. New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman’s onset of Stockholm Syndrome is one of the earliest in recorded history. (via Deadspin)

To sum up, the cops here didn’t do anything particularly wrong… except for one major aspect of the equation which would have prevented it from arriving at the point where Cashman needed to be walked backwards at gunpoint from his own vehicle to waiting officers.

Brian Cashman was swarmed by a group of Connecticut police officers who drew their firearms on the Yankee general manager Friday when he was apparently mistaken for an armed car thief, The Post has learned.

The 52-year-old GM of the Bronx Bombers was driving his white Jeep Wrangler from Yankee Stadium to Connecticut after it was reported stolen last Saturday, according to team sources.

So far, it seems Cashman’s effusive praise for the officers who drew down on him isn’t misplaced. (We’ll get to his praise in a moment.) But if this was all that had actually happened, the cops would be completely in the right. A stolen vehicle being driven by someone is generally a guns-out sort of operation. That’s why ALPRs suck so much when they’re wrong. And they’re wrong more often than law enforcement would like to admit.

But that’s not the whole story. Cashman was actually on his way to the Norwalk police department to have his car examined for evidence. The NYPD had already recovered Cashman’s car and returned it to him. However, the NYPD failed to take his vehicle off the stolen vehicle hotlist. Cashman received a call from Westchester police en route saying his plate had apparently been snagged by an ALPR operated by them and officers wanted to know if he was driving his vehicle.

Somehow, this information never made it to the Darien PD, which was already searching for a Jeep like Cashman’s due to a report of a man driving a similar vehicle brandishing a weapon at a local doctor’s office. That increased the itchiness of the trigger fingers, which became even itchier when his plate was run and the NYPD database still showed the vehicle as “stolen.”

Somewhere between five and ten officers handled the dangerous Cashman who was just trying to bring his car to the local PD to be processed for evidence. Cashman had nothing but praise for the officers spurred into action by the NYPD’s inexplicable inaction.

“They executed a very tactful interception,” Cashman said.

“They’re clearly very professional and trained and they asked me to turn my car off, exit the vehicle, walk backwards towards them…they were executing their duty.”


“I have high respect for all law enforcement. They do an amazing job whether you’re in Connecticut and New York City — and sometimes unique circumstances can occur.”

Yeah… maybe. I mean, the Connecticut police officers involved may have been victims of circumstance. But the NYPD really shouldn’t be excused for putting a vehicle’s rightful owner in such a dangerous situation. Its failure to do so meant that a citizen willing to help the police continue an investigation was driving around tripping plate readers and setting himself up for an armed ambush. Cashman escaped uninjured and with everything (finally) straightened out.

Various news orgs (very swiftly) obtained body camera footage from the stop. Cashman’s experience differs greatly from the average (innocent) driver’s. Once he’s recognized as the GM of the New York Yankees by one of the cops, the entire thing comes to a sudden halt, with orders for lights on cruisers to be shut off in order to not draw more attention to the stop.

Others — the nobodies no cop will recognize — won’t be as lucky. The assumption in most stops like these is that the average person protesting their innocence is actually a guilty person trying to talk themselves out of an arrest.

When you have the capability to track cars as they travel from place to place and the tech to run thousands of plate photographs a day against hotlists, you have an obligation to use this power responsibly. The NYPD was grossly irresponsible here, and if the driver wasn’t a 52-year-old white man, this very likely would not have ended quite as well.

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Comments on “NYPD's Failure To Remove A Vehicle From Its Stolen Car Database Results In Another Citizen Staring Down The Barrel Of Several Guns”

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Anonymous Coward says:

A friend of mine had the same thing happen in Shelton, CT. His grandfather had mistakenly reported the car stolen a year earlier. Funny though, he drove that car without the cops running the plates until his black friend happened to be in the car with him. After coming to out of a restaurant they found themselves surrounded by cops including a K-9 unit. Thankfully they didn’t shoot the black guy.

PaulT (profile) says:

"A stolen vehicle being driven by someone is generally a guns-out sort of operation."

In the US. Many other places don’t introduce the possibility of an immediate death sentence for stolen property, yet still manage to deal with car theft.

"which was already searching for a Jeep like Cashman’s due to a report of a man driving a similar vehicle brandishing a weapon"

Erm, so they weren’t looking for this car specifically, just one like it? Why, then, would its status on the database be relevant? I understand why it might have exacerbated the situation, but it wouldn’t necessarily have changed things.

"Once he’s recognized as the GM of the New York Yankees by one of the cops, the entire thing comes to a sudden halt"

Which sadly just raises the question of what would have happened if he’d been a similarly innocent but less recognisable person, especially someone less caucasian. "Guy avoids being shot for driving his own car because he’s famous" is not a particularly good story even though it had a decent outcome for the man involved… this time.

Netsrfr says:

Re: Regarding Database Relevance

When police have a vague description of a vehicle used in a crime they issue a “be on the lookout”and will run plates of vehicles matching the description if seen in the vicinity.
The notice would be something like “be on the lookout for an armed suspect near Dr. Somebody’s Office on highway 22; the suspect is a white male driving a white midsize SUV.”
Now when the owner of a white Jeep that is improperly listed as stolen cruises along highway 22 and has their plates run an officer could reasonably assume they are related.

Michael (profile) says:

Ok, I have to say I don’t understand the complain here.

Yes, NYPD screwed up and did not instantly take a vehicle off of the stolen car list, but that seems reasonable since they literally just gave the vehicle back.

In New York, it popped up as stolen and they literally called him and told him so. No big deal there.

In Connecticut, the vehicle was driven into a town that was literally responding to reports of someone with a similar vehicle waving a gun around, the vehicle plate indicated it was stolen, and they made a stop with a reasonable amount of officers, no MRAP, reasonably got him out of the vehicle without shooting him, left body cameras on, and once they determined that this was a mistake, they stood down.

I know it is fashionable to complain about cops being storm troopers these days, but let’s please simply recognize that the Darien officers did exactly what they should have in this situation. While I do not think the police in this country are doing a great job all the time these days, let’s not criticize them when they actually do the right thing – that makes the situation worse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes, NYPD screwed up and did not instantly take a vehicle off of the stolen car list, but that seems reasonable since they literally just gave the vehicle back.

It is not reasonable to give a vehicle back before removing it from the stolen list, as that exposes the driver to excessive risk of being stopped when any camera or cop runs the number through the database.

David says:

Re: Re: Re:

This. Removing the vehicle from the "stolen" list is not some strange rare procedure when handing back stolen property. It’s a fundamental part of the procedure to a degree where it is really surprising that it isn’t an automatic part of the administrative act but apparently requires some manual interaction with the database.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yes but without creating an incident of its own otherwise it just creates a continuation of the problem bitterness in areas where there was none. And dragging people who were not involved into it.

That’s one way wars get started. There is a difference between saying “the nypd made a mistake it will hopefully do better next time or be rectified” and “the nypd did this on purpose and this man would have gotten killed if he had taken a left turn instead of a right with that car”

It all gets out of hand. People get too upset and they lose sight and start assuming things which later turns into words. Other side does the same. Now we have a mess.

TFG says:

Re: Re:

He was also rich and well-known. The color of his skin probably played a part, but they still had guns on him despite visual line of sight, until someone recognized him.

Police oppression hits hardest on people of color, but it also hits the poor in general. Don’t forget that Daniel Shaver, the unarmed man who was gunned down in cold blood by Philip Brailsford (who got hired back just so he could get his pension), was white.

Being white might reduce your chances of running into police oppression, but in the instance, it won’t save you. If anyone is relying on that (and boy do I not like contemplating that mindset), be warned.

Anonymous Coward says:

The police made a mistake. They followed procedure. No one was hurt, and the intended victim praised them from their professionalism. Ok, so they made a mistake. Give the guy that made the mistake a slap on the wrist, put some safety mechanism in place to try to prevent it in the future, and move on. There are enough actual situations were we can beat up the police, and I’ve got my pitchfork and torch ready for just the occasion, that we don’t need to create one. You could what-if any situation to death. Lets just be glad this one turned out the way it did.

ECA (profile) says:


How big is this state?
they catch a License plate coming across the border..
Where was that WHITE JEEP incidence?
They Contact NY data base and dont get the list of the OWNER???
How much of a spectacle is a WHITE JEEP?? How much does this Stand out?
The cops mention in the Vid, they heard WHOSE car it was..
Driver says(?) it is the 2nd time he was stopped??

Robert Beckman (profile) says:

Why the bigotry, Tim?

Why the bigotry, Tim?

Your own article indicates that his nice treatment was because he was recognized by one of the cops, not because he’s a “white male.”

Do you really think Michael Jordan wouldn’t get similar treatment? Or are you just trying to signal your moral superiority?

The problem with color in police encounters isn’t black vs white, it’s blue vs non-blue, and anyone who’s researched the issue knows it.

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