Cop Charges Fellow Officers With Harassment

New York police officer Michael Ortiz is suing the city’s police department for harassment. Ortiz alleges that he was threatened with revenge, called names and given less desirable assignments after reporting that a superior, Sgt. Daniel Engel, had harassed two lesbian women last March.

According to Ortiz, the two women were stopped at a DWI checkpoint last March. When the women asked for directions to a gay bar, Engel asked them about their sexual habits and whether or not they were lesbians. When they said yes, he ordered them to kiss each other. The women protested, but eventually complied after Engel said he would not allow them to leave until they did. Engel said “That was excellent,” after the women kissed.

Ortiz recorded the incident on a tape recorder that he carried with him. Ortiz said he had carried a tape recorder ever since Engel once tried to coerce him into giving a traffic ticket to an innocent driver.

When Ortiz revealed the tape that proved the harassment, he was punished for violating the “Blue Wall” of silence that requires officers to stay quiet about fellow officers’ misdeeds. Ortiz claims that the resulting harassment from other police officers caused him severe stress. His lawyer, Colleen Mennan, said that the other officers at the scene were never questioned. “At the very least, it rises to the level of misconduct,” she said.


AP - October 27, 1997

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