The NYPD detective seen on video screaming and cursing at an Uber driver in a roadside tirade earlier this week apologized Friday for his actions, telling NBC 4 New York in an exclusive interview that he hopes to buy the driver dinner.
"I apologize. I sincerely apologize," said detective Patrick Cherry, whose tirade was captured by one of the car’s passengers and posted on YouTube, where it has been viewed more than 3 million times.
Cherry’s apology comes after the detective was stripped of his badge and gun and transferred out of the FBI's elite Joint Terrorism Task Force. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton also admonished Cherry after the video went viral online, saying “No good cop can watch that without a wince”, and the NYPD and independent Civilian Complaint Review Board have been investigating the exchange.
"People shouldn’t be treated that way. I let my emotions get the better of me and I was angry," Cherry said. "My intention was to be courteous and then we got into an argument. There was no intention to berate or hurt deeply the driver."
Cherry told NBC4 New York that the video, which shows him cursing at the driver and screaming, “How long have you been in this country?” misses what prompted the confrontation. He said the driver pulled up fast behind him as he was trying to park his unmarked patrol car on a West Village street Monday. The driver was honking and gesturing angrily, Cherry said.
That was when he turned his emergency lights on to “clarify the problem.” He said the driver then refused to turn over his license and registration, and that’s when Cherry lost his temper.
"When I walked up, I was uptight. I wanted to know what the problem was," Cherry said. "I felt his driving actions were discourteous and impolite and when he stopped he said, 'I'm not going to give you anything."'
Sanjay Seth, the Uber passenger who filmed the incident from the back seat, responded to Cherry's account of the altercation in the NBC 4 New York interview, tweeting: "I question part of Detective Cherry's interpretation of the incident in his recent apology."
"CCRB needs to sort out the facts," Seth said, referring to the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
Taxi drivers rallied to call for Cherry to apologize; they initially said they didn't want him to lose his job, but hoped the fall-out from the altercation would spur better treatment for cab drivers from the NYPD.
But the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers on Saturday reversed course, saying Cherry's poor record and lacking apology should get him fired.
The police union has defended Cherry, saying the reaction to the confrontation overstates its significance.
On the video, Cherry can be seen apparently imitating the driver’s accent and asking how many years he’s lived in this country. Asked about that, Cherry said race and ethnicity had "nothing to do with it."
“There’s no reasonable way to determine who is driving facing away from me,” he said. “No reasonable way to determine in a few short seconds where someone skin color race or religion is going to play a factor in something that short.”
Cherry said that he is willing to take the department’s punishment, and is willing to do whatever is asked of him in his new role. He also says that the three-minute video doesn’t reflect the way he or his fellow men and women in blue carry themselves on a day-to-day basis.
The incident comes as New York Police officers are being trained in how to engage courteously with the public. Cherry said he feels badly that his behavior will reflect on a department that is working hard on its public image.
“You can’t judge three minutes of tape that that is the common practice of the New York Police Department,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s simply one individual who got angry."