NYPD officer Michael Reynolds never denied breaking into the home of a black family and calling them “n_ggers” while threatening to kill them after confusing their home with his Airbnb next door during a drunken bachelor party excursion with fellow cops in Tennessee.
He just figured it would not affect his job as a New York City police officer much less land him in jail.
After all, “what happens in Nashville stays in Nashville” was the prevailing attitude among Reynolds and his two cop buddies that weekend in July 2018, according to the prosecutor who charged him with four misdemeanors, including one count of aggravated criminal trespassing and three counts of assault.
“We are police from New York,” the groom, NYPD officer Thomas Geberth, told the 42-year-old victim, Conese Halliburton, the day after the incident.
“You don’t need to make a big deal about it. We were just drinking.”
The cops were laughing when they told Halliburton not to bother filing a complaint because they had “immunity,” according to her testimony. Reynolds apologized but he was also laughing, mocking her, thinking it was all a big joke. That he would never get disciplined over it.
Only hours earlier after Halliburton had called 911, Nashville police officers responded and made no arrests after learning the culprit was a cop.
But Nashville police lied to Halliburton and told her they were unable to find the suspect who broke into her home even though she told them exactly where to find him and Reynolds later testified that he spoke to them and told them he was a cop.
In fact, Reynolds was not arrested until three months later, long after he had returned to New York. And only after the national media reported on the incident widely.
But even after a Nashville judge sentenced the 26-year-old cop to 15 days in jail on December 4 after he pleaded no contest to the four misdemeanors, the New York City Police Department still did not see it fit to fire him.
Instead, it kept him on “modified duty,” a type of police purgatory that allows cops to retain their pay and benefits while relinquishing the power and authority to destroy lives.
The point is usually to keep the cop employed until the public forgets about whatever crime he may have committed which is when he is quietly allowed back on active duty.
But it did not appear that the public was going to forget this one anytime soon considering a petition demanding his termination quickly surpassed 10,000 signatures as well as about two dozen demonstrators showed up to NYPD headquarters on New Year’s Day demanding his resignation.
The petition and the protest drew press coverage and the pressure apparently got to Reynolds who resigned Thursday, which means he loses his pension and health benefits.
According to the New York Times:
For weeks after the sentencing, though, he remained an officer, stirring a backlash against the New York Police Department. More than 10,000 people signed an online petition demanding his dismissal and supporting the woman whose home he invaded, Conese Halliburton.
“Michael Reynolds is a violent and dangerous racist who has no business carrying either a badge or a gun,” her lawyer, Daniel Horwitz, said via email. “Ms. Halliburton wants the N.Y.P.D. to fire him immediately so that he can’t hurt anyone else.”
The Police Department said last week that Officer Reynolds was on “modified duty” and that the disciplinary process was awaiting the Nashville case’s conclusion. Asked about the matter again on Monday, a top department official said the process “was moving forward and questioning will take place imminently.”
On Thursday, the Police Department said Officer Reynolds had quit the department effective immediately.
“He will receive no pension or health benefits, nor will he be allowed to carry a firearm,” said Devora Kaye, the acting deputy commissioner for public information. “His actions are wholly inconsistent with the values and standards the New York City Police Department expects and demands of its officers.”
Had the NYPD had any true values and standards, it would have fired him after learning of what he did back in 2018. And had the Nashville Police Department had true values and standards, it would have arrested Reynolds the night of the incident instead of lying about not being able to find him.
After all, Halliburton not only told the cops the man who had broken into her home was staying in the Airbnb next door but Reynolds testified that the only thing he remembered that night was talking to a Nashville cop.
This is how it was originally reported on WKRN in August 2018:
Halliburton called police and said Metro responded quickly. However, officers couldn’t find the suspect.
“I was adamant with the police officers. I said, ‘I know they’re in that Airbnb because you cannot disappear that fast in the dark with all these cars coming.’”
The next day, Halliburton confronted the Airbnb guests with her neighbor. The confrontation is also captured on surveillance video. A man in the group can be heard apologizing for breaking into her house.
After the exchange, Halliburton called police again to report the suspect. Officers arrived two hours later.
Metro police said they prioritize 911 calls by severity. She said by the time police arrived, the men were gone.
“It’s traumatizing. I’m working on no sleep at all. I’m out here having nightmares,” Halliburton told News 2. “My kids are having nightmares. They’re staying up all night because he’s still out there.”
And this is what the New York Times reported in January 2020:
When officers arrived, she described the intruder to them and suggested they talk to the men staying at the Airbnb two doors away.
Before storming into Ms. Halliburton’s house, Officer Reynolds testified, he and his friends had been drinking in Nashville’s Lower Broadway area. He said he did not know how much alcohol he had consumed.
The only thing he remembered, he testified, was identifying himself as a police officer when speaking to a Nashville officer who answered Ms. Halliburton’s call. He said he learned about what he had done from his friends later.
Ms. Halliburton and two neighbors confronted Officer Reynolds and his friends later that day in the street.
Ms. Halliburton and the neighbors testified that the men, including Officer Reynolds and a man he identified as a fellow New York City officer, apologized.
Officer Reynolds said he had gone into the home by mistake, thinking that it was their rental.
But Ms. Halliburton and the neighbors also testified that the officers were laughing at the same time, saying that they had “immunity” because they were law enforcement officers.
Reynolds must begin serving his 15-day sentence by January 15 unless he files an appeal which will be much harder to win now that he has been stripped of his Blue Privilege. Halliburton has also filed a lawsuit.