New York City police seem to have a problem when they go off-duty. In just the past week, there have been three incidents of off-duty New York City cops firing their weapons under odd circumstances. But perhaps it should not be surprising that alcohol was involved each time — allegedly.
"I personally am very disturbed about a number of incidents in recent weeks that are part of a long-term problem of inappropriate use of alcohol by members of the department," said New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton after the latest debacle involving booze, guns, and an off-duty cop.
And disturbed he should be, based on these three recent incidents.
The most recent strange and violent episode involving a New York police officer took place at about 3 am Wednesday morning in Watchung, New Jersey. There are two published versions of what happened during the incident, but both agree that for whatever reason, off-duty Sergeant Wanda Anthony, a 14-year New York police veteran, fired one round after some sort of a love triangle confrontation.
According to The New York Daily News, Anthony opened fire on a former flame and his new girlfriend. But according to the rival tabloid New York Post, Anthony herself was "the other woman." She was returning from a date with a married man when the man's wife stormed of her house and confronted her. Anthony then whipped out her service weapon and fired, the Post reported.
Either way, Anthony was arrested shortly after the shooting for driving while intoxicated. Fortunately, no one was injured in the altercation.
The Anthony shooting came just hours after an off-duty New York cop in the Westchester County town of Pelham unloaded not just one, but 13 rounds into the car in front of his own at a red light; shooting a passenger in that vehicle in the torso, arm and hand.
The victim is in stable condition at an upstate hospital. As for why the officer, five-year New York police veteran Brendan Cronin shot him, investigators have no clue. They've found no connection between Cronin and the victim, and the off-duty cop — now under arrest on a charge of first-degree assault — says he doesn't even remember the incident, possibly because he was drunk.
Cronin has entered a not guilty plea.
Those two shootings followed an apparently accidental shooting last Thursday, when Detective Jay Poggi, who has been on the New York force for 30 years and is 58 years old, accidentally shot his partner after drawing his weapon for some reason.
Poggi then drove his wounded partner, who was hit in the wrist, to Jamaica Hospital — where he was arrested on a drunk driving charge.
So it would appear that the best advice one could get when meeting an off-duty New York police officer — other than don't buy him or her a drink — is, duck.