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January 27, 2024, 6:07 PM

City Councilman Yusef Salaam, member of ‘Central Park Five,’ says NYPD pulled over his car without explanation

By Dean Balsamini and Tina Moore

City Councilman Yusef Salaam, a member of the exonerated “Central Park Five,” was stopped by the NYPD without explanation in Harlem — but cops said the “professional” and “respectful” interaction should be “commended.”

Salaam, who serves as Public Safety Chair on the Council, was driving with his wife and family Friday night when an officer pulled him over, according to his statement and footage of the encounter released by the NYPD.

“Last night, while driving with my wife and children and listening in to a call with my Council colleagues on speakerphone, I was pulled over by an NYPD officer in my beloved Village of Harlem within the 28th Precinct,” Salaam said in a statement Saturday.

“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.”

Salaam was pulled over while driving a “blue sedan with a Georgia license plate for driving with dark tint beyond the legal limits, a violation of New York State law,” the NYPD said in its own statement on X.

“The officer approached the vehicle, identified himself, and asked the driver to roll down his window,” the NYPD statement reads.

“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.”

In the 41-second clip, which appears to capture the entire interaction, the officer does not explain why he pulled Salaam over.

The NYPD praised the cop as having followed proper procedures, including those “put in place after Detective Russel Timoshenko was shot and killed through tinted windows in 2007,” and said the stop would be properly documented with a vehicle report.

The Police Benevolent Association also lauded the officer for his “outstanding, professional work.”

“This Council member and every other elected official who baselessly smeared our police officers owe them an apology,” PBA President Patrick Hendry said in a statement.

Salaam was upset the officer didn’t give him a reason for the stop.

“The fact that the officer did not provide a rationale for the stop…calls into question how the NYPD justifies its stops of New Yorkers and highlights the need for greater transparency to ensure they are constitutional,” reads Salaam’s statement.

The Saturday announcement of the traffic stop controversy came on the day of a scheduled ride-along between City Councilmembers and the NYPD, amid an ongoing City Hall battle over the “How Many Stops Act,” which would force officers to file a detailed report on every street stop they make — even for low-level ones like speaking with potential witnesses to a crime. 

Salaam said in the statement that he no longer planned to participate in the ride-along.

The council passed the bill last month, but Mayor Adams subsequently vetoed the legislation, charging the result would be “drowning officers in unnecessary paperwork, when they should be out on the street keeping us safe.”

The City Council is poised to override the veto on Tuesday.

Salaam, 49, an insurgent, first-time candidate and father of 10, secured a shocking win over the Harlem establishment in June — blowing away rival candidate and state Assemblywoman Inez Dickens, 73, as well as the powerhouses who backed her.

He was among the teenagers wrongly accused, convicted and imprisoned for the rape of a woman jogging in Central Park in 1989.

Adams’ office issues a statement late Saturday on the issue that said: “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.”