City Councilmember Yusef Salaam says NYPD pulled him over without explanation


NEW YORK – Newly elected City Councilmember Yusef Salaam, who was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned in the Central Park Five case, says he was stopped by police without explanation Friday.

It comes as Mayor Eric Adams is continuing his effort to get some City Council members to support his veto of the controversial How Many Stops Act

The measure is intended to increase police transparency by requiring NYPD officers to document any encounter they have for investigative purposes, including the apparent race, gender and age of the people they interact with. 

The City Council passed the bill in December. Adams vetoed the bill, saying it would amount to “drowning officers in unnecessary paperwork, when they should be out on the street keeping us safe.” 

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams has moved to override the veto, and a council meeting on the bill has been set for Tuesday.

“Police transparency is a prerequisite to public safety because it fosters the community trust that is necessary to make our neighborhoods safer,” Speaker Adams said. 

Meanwhile, Mayor Adams invited City Council members to participate in an NYPD ride-along Saturday, but Salaam said he would not participate because of the police stop.

Salaam said he was diving with his wife and family when he was pulled over:

“I introduced myself as Councilman Yusef Salaam, and subsequently asked the officer why I was pulled over. Instead of answering my question, the officer stated ‘We’re done here,’ and proceeded to walk away. The fact that the officer did not provide a rationale for the stop, which would have only been legal at ‘level 3’ (with reasonable suspicion) or higher as required for vehicle stops, calls into question how the NYPD justifies its stops of New Yorkers and highlights the need for greater transparency to ensure they are constitutional. This experience only amplified the importance of transparency for all police investigative stops, because the lack of transparency allows racial profiling and unconstitutional stops of all types to occur and often go unreported.”

The NYPD says the stop was proper because the car’s windows were tinted beyond the legal limit.


Body cam footage shows the officer getting out of his vehicle, approaching Salaam’s vehicle and saying, “Roll that back one for me, too. Can you roll your back window, please?”

After Salaam rolls down the rear driver’s side window, the officer approaches the driver’s side window and identifies himself.

“I’m Councilmember Salaam,” Salaam says.

“Oh, councilmember?” the officer says.

“This district, District 9,” Salaam says.

“Oh, OK. Have a good one,” the officer says before starting to walk away.

“Is everything OK?” Salaam asks.

“Yep. Yeah, yeah. You’re working, right?” the officer says. Salaam can be heard responding, and the officer says, “Alright, take care, sir,” before returning to his own vehicle.

The NYPD released the following statement Saturday:

“At approximately 6:20 PM yesterday evening in the 26th precinct, an officer pulled over a blue sedan with a Georgia license plate for driving with dark tint beyond legal limits, a violation of New York State law. The officer approached the vehicle, identified himself, and asked the driver to roll down his windows. The driver complied and identified himself as New York City Councilmember Yusef Salaam, performing official duties, at which point the officer advised him to have a good night. This entire account is corroborated by body-worn camera footage and the vehicle report.

“As the video shows, throughout this interaction, the officer conducted himself professionally and respectfully. He followed all proper procedures, including procedures that were put in place after Detective Russel Timoshenko was shot and killed through tinted windows in 2007. This officer should be commended for his polite, professional, and respectful conduct and for using his discretion appropriately so the councilmember could complete his official duties.

“To be clear, however, last night’s exchange was not a Level 1 interaction, as any vehicle stop is, by definition, a Level 4 encounter since the officer had probable cause of a violation of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law. And following NYPD procedure, all vehicle stops are already properly documented with a vehicle report, as was done here.”

The New York City Police Benevolent Association President, Patrick Hendry, said:

“Facts matter, and the video doesn’t just expose the lies about this incident. It shows the truth about the outstanding, professional work our members do every day. This Council member and every other elected official who baselessly smeared our police officers owe them an apology.”

Mayor Adams responded to the incident with the following statement:

“We appreciate Councilmember Salaam, the new Public Safety chair of the City Council, for bringing this stop to our attention. We also appreciate and commend the NYPD for following all proper police procedures and being respectful during last night’s interaction, as the video and vehicle stop report show. The village of Harlem deserves nothing less, and we are remain excited to work with Councilmember Salaam.”

“We spoke, and once he had an opportunity to see the video, he saw that the officer showed professionalism. It is, you know, a car stop is stressful for a police officer, and it’s stressful for the people who are being stopped. And, I think that, he is able to see the video, and we spoke, and again I am excited about him being a public safety chair,” Adams said Saturday night.



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