Given the tension among cops, it couldn't have been the smartest decision to make.
A Brooklyn man was arrested late Tuesday after he drove up close to a police car in Harlem and mimicked pointing a gun at two officers inside to show his friends "How easy it would be to shoot a police officer," officials said.
Unique Johnson, 32, was awaiting arraignment late Wednesday on charges stemming from the altercation that took place at about 9 p.m. Tuesday at the intersection of 125th Street and Seventh Avenue, police said. Johnson was charged with menacing a police officer, harassment, disorderly conduct and aggravated unlicensed operator because he was driving with a suspended license, police said.
According to investigators, Johnson was driving a Chevy SUV when he pulled up slightly to the rear of a police vehicle from the 28th Precinct that was stopped for a traffic light. The SUV caught the attention of one of the officers in the car, who noticed Johnson make the hand gesture as if he had a gun, police said.
As the traffic light turned green, the SUV drove away and the cops pursued it, pulling the vehicle over and searching Johnson and seven other occupants, but finding no weapon, according to officials. Police said Johnson told investigators he pulled out his cellphone, which was wrapped in a dark blue protective cover, and pointed it like a gun "as if I was shooting a police officer at an angle."
One high-ranking police official said that given the charged atmosphere after the Eric Garner case in Staten Island, as well as the apparently accidental shooting by officers in Brooklyn of Akai Gurley, there could have been more political furor if police took defensive action and actually shot the unarmed Johnson.
Cops have been on edge since officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were assassinated as they sat in a patrol car in Brooklyn on Dec. 20. The killings of the officers led to the NYPD ordering highway patrols and traffic units to double up patrols, actions that NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said contributed to a slowdown in some low-level arrests and summonses for quality-of-life crimes.
Other officials said that police, particularly those who have never experienced the killing of a fellow officer, had taken it upon themselves to pull back and not engage people on the street out of fear that a minor offense might lead to a bloody confrontation or legal ramifications.