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OpinionColumnistsLeonard Levitt

Bronx DA Darcel Clark is unafraid to pursue police cases

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark speaks during a

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark speaks during a news conference last year against gun violence in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

Say this about Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark: She’s got guts. Unlike some D.A.s in this town, she doesn’t hesitate to take on the NYPD.

Less than a week after Sgt. Hugh Barry was acquitted in the fatal shooting of an emotionally disturbed black woman — including a charge of intentional murder — Clark unsealed an indictment last week against NYPD Capt. Naoki Yaguchi for an incident that occurred on April 22.

Yaguchi is charged with official misconduct and obstructing governmental administration after he allegedly delayed a Breathalyzer test for an off-duty detective involved in a car accident. Authorities are supposed to test a suspect’s blood-alcohol level within two hours of an incident.

Yaguchi, who worked that night as Bronx duty captain, allegedly delayed Det. Efrain Medina’s trip from the 46th Precinct, where the accident occurred, to the 45th Precinct, where suspects in the Bronx are tested for drunken driving.

Medina was subsequently arrested and pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired, a violation. Because there was of a five-hour delay in administering the test, the results were deemed insufficient for prosecution on the higher charge of driving while intoxicated.

Clark held Yaguchi responsible for that.

The indictment infuriated Captains Endowment Association president Roy Richter, who said Yaguchi was not on duty when the accident occurred and did not learn of it until 90 minutes afterward.

According to Richter, police learned of the accident via a 911 call at 9:36 p.m. Yaguchi, he said, did not begin his tour until 11 p.m.

Richter wrote in an email: “There are so many facts and details to this case that make the action of the Bronx District Attorney even more obscene and totally without basis.

“Shockingly, the Bronx District Attorney assigns a criminal liability and an indictment against the Bronx duty captain who was not even on duty at the time of the incident and initial investigation.”

But here’s the key question: Was the timing of Yaguchi’s indictment last week in an incident that occurred nearly a year ago, a message to the police after Barry’s acquittal?

Patrice O’Shaughnessy, a longtime Daily News crime reporter who is now Clark’s spokeswoman, didn’t respond to that question.

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