Brooklyn, NY – An NYPD sergeant accidentally shot a plainclothes narcotics detective on Tuesday while firing at two unarmed suspects during a drug bust. Detective Jon Gladstone is the third NYPD officer shot by possible friendly fire this year.
Around 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Oscar Vera and Geraldo Rodriguez were sitting in a van parked in Brooklyn when they allegedly sold $80 of heroin to undercover cops. Shortly after the undercover cops left, plainclothes NYPD Detective Jon Gladstone and an unidentified police sergeant flanked the vehicle on both sides. According to NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, Gladstone and his partner identified themselves as cops when the van suddenly went into reverse, crashing into a parked police car behind them.
As Gladstone reached inside the vehicle from the passenger side, the van abruptly pulled forward. Gladstone and the sergeant pulled out their guns and fired at least four shots at the suspects. The van rolled forward, crashed into another vehicle, and stopped.
“I heard a car crash, so when I looked I saw a cop with a gun and I got scared and I ran back inside my room,” witness Nichi Perez, 19, told the NY Daily News. “And I heard three gunshots and all you heard was the cops scream, ‘I shot him! I shot him!’”
Vera was shot twice in the leg and once in the arm, while no bullets struck Rodriguez. Both were unarmed. Vera was transported to Bellevue Hospital to treat his wounds as police searched for a third suspect who had directed the undercover cops to the alleged drug dealers.
Besides putting a bullet in Vera, the unidentified police sergeant accidentally shot Gladstone in the left shoulder. The plainclothes detective was taken to Elmhurst Hospital and is expected to survive the bullet wound from his colleague.
Last year, Gladstone and NYPD Det. Sekou Bourne were sued for assault, false arrest, and malicious prosecution after Bourne was caught on cell phone video knocking a teen unconscious. Around 3:30 p.m. on June 4, 2014, a plainclothes cop jumped out of a blue van and accused 17-year-old Marcel Hamer of smoking marijuana. As Bourne pushed Hamer to ground, the teenager’s left arm hit a planter rail.
Unable to move his arm and explaining to Bourne that he was just smoking a cigarette, Hamer was knocked unconscious when the detective suddenly punched him in the face. Instead of attempting to revive the unconscious teen, Bourne and Gladstone handcuffed his limp arms and went through his pockets. Suffering from neurological problems, including headaches, dizziness, and memory loss, Hamer filed a lawsuit against the city and the two NYPD detectives last year for $95 million.
Bourne has been named in at least six other lawsuits alleging false arrest, warrant-less searches, fabricated evidence, and beatings. All six lawsuits were settled out of court for various amounts. Bourne also came under investigation after tackling a woman and injuring her for holding a lollipop that he mistook for marijuana.
Gladstone was named in at least two other lawsuits accusing his narcotics unit of breaking into apartments without warrants, attacking people in their sleep, and abruptly pulling up in their unmarked van to frisk people without probable cause. When Gladstone and his men failed to find any drugs, they arrested the people anyways and released them later without charges or an explanation. Both lawsuits settled for undisclosed amounts.
Gladstone is the third NYPD officer believed to have been shot by friendly fire this year. On February 20, Officer William Reddin was possibly hit by friendly fire during a police shootout with career criminal Frederick Funes. On January 9, Officer Sherrod Stuart was shot in the ankle by friendly fire during a massive street brawl in the Bronx.