On Friday, former NYPD officer Michael Dragjati was sentenced to almost five years in prison for falsely arresting and fabricating charges against a black man. U.S. District Judge William Kuntz observed that Michael Dargjati was “a controlling cop, a cowardly cop and a criminal cop.” The court sentenced Daragjati to 57 months in prison. In January, Daragjati had pleaded guilty to violating civil rights and extortion.
At the time of his arrest, the eight-year veteran of NYPD was caught on a wiretapped call of telling a friend how he “fried” the man, whom he referred to by a racial slur, and of arresting him and fabricating charges. The unnamed African-American victim, a resident of Staten Island was stopped and frisked by Daragjati in April 2011 and the man had to spend two days in jail.
During the sentencing, the courtroom was packed with supporters of Daragjati. He made a plea for leniency saying that he had used the slur without racial animus and that it was simply “a bad judgment call.” He admitted “People don’t like the cops … I don’t blame them anymore.”
The court dismissed Daragjati’s assertion that the use of the slur was a “joke.” Instead, the court held that Daragjati’s comment “reveals a horrific truth” about casual racism. Judge Kuntz said, “That is a culture that threatens the rule of law … That culture must come to an end.”
In an earlier press conference, a former NYPD veteran, Eric Adams who is now a New York State Senator, said that Daragjati’s actions were a “clear example of the abuse of the ‘stop and frisk’ policy.”
The U.S. Attorney for Brooklyn, Loretta Lynch, told the media that the sentence was proportionate with respect to the serious crimes of “false arrest and imprisonment motivated by racial animus.” Daragjati’s case became the rally point for advocates against New York’s controversial ‘stop and frisk’ program. Opponents of the program say that though the program is credited for reducing the crime rate in the city, it unfairly targets blacks and Latinos.