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NYPD cop in viral video of subway row says training saw him through 

The 6-year veteran officer was lauded for his restraint facing down five drunken foes.

NYPD officer Syed Ali talksThursday about his confrontation

NYPD officer Syed Ali talksThursday about his confrontation with five drunken men on an East Broadway subway platform that was captured on video and became a viral hit. Photo Credit: Anthony M. DeStefano

NYPD officer Syed Ali may have looked cool and calm on a viral video of the 36-year-old cop confronting five drunken men menacingly approaching him on a subway platform.  But the Army veteran knew he was in a tough situation.

“I felt a trickle of sweat go down the back of my neck,” Ali told reporters Thursday about the Sunday confrontation inside the East Broadway subway station.  Ali had just told the five rowdy men, who he said had bothered a woman subway passenger, to leave the platform before things went suddenly downhill.

“Then it was just straight up police action,” Ali said before a gaggle of cameras and reporters at NYPD headquarters.

 A video of the altercation, which has since gone viral with more than 4 million hits, showed Ali brandishing a baton as he fended off the five men while saying he didn’t want to hurt them.  Eventually, the five were transported to a hospital due to their highly intoxicated states.

 Ali has won praise from Mayor Bill de Blasio and others for the restraint he showed.  But for Ali, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, his reaction seemed like a text book example of how cops are taught to try and de-escalate a confrontation before resorting to deadly force.

 “Life is precious and going to that weapon is not necessarily the first thing to think about,” Ali said. “There are other tools we have been given, other tactics we have been shown and we have to use all of the resources before we go to the use of deadly force.”

 A cop for more than six years, Ali, who was born in Bangladesh but lives in Brooklyn, gave a shout out to his fellow transit officers.

 “They do this every single day, day in and day out,” Ali noted. “What you saw is probably what happens all the time.”

 Chief Vincent Coogan, executive officer of the transit police, said that while quality-of-life crimes haven’t increased in the subway, cops take care of those conditions as they learn about them.  He added that the department will be looking at the way officers are deployed with partners.  Ali was alone at the time.

 After the intoxicated men were treated and released, they were found on Dec. 24 at the same station, outstretched on the platform where they were arrested and charged with violating a law against sleeping on the platform, police said.  After prosecutors declined to try them for that offense, three of the men, ranging from 27 to 36 years of age with no fixed residences, were charged in connection with obstructing  governmental administration, riot, menacing and other offenses, related to their actions against Ali, police said.

While Ali’s actions have been a social media hit, the officer admitted he doesn’t use any such media platforms, in part because of his old military job. Now, that could change.

“Maybe I will think about it, I am not too sure, it is addictive,” Ali said to laughs.


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