WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan — An NYPD officer was recently convicted of multiple crimes related to a racist attack he made on a mother and her four children, but he's still officially on duty with the NYPD.
Officer Michael Reynolds will soon serve a jail sentence in relation to the crime. I's a situation being questioned by thousands of people in an online petition, and it puts the issue of discipline within the NYPD under a spotlight.
Reynolds was in Nashville, Tennessee in July 2018 for a bachelor party weekend. One morning at around 2:30, he kicked in the door of a home two doors away from the AirBnB at which he and a group of other NYPD officers were staying.
He burst in, and proceeded to assault the people who lived in the home -- Conese Halliburton, and her four sons, the youngest of whom were 8 and 11 years old. When the two older sons tried to stop Reynolds, he yelled expletives and epithets at them.
"Try to shoot me," he yelled, even though there's no evidence that anyone in the home had a firearm, "and I'll break every f---ing bone in your f---ing neck," he yelled, loudly enough to be heard on the recording from the surveillance camera next door.
He went on to yell at the family as "f--king n---ers."
Reynolds, 26, is white. The Halliburton family is African-American.
The surveillance video was key evidence in the criminal case against Officer Reynolds.
Halliburton called Nashville police during the attack. Before they arrived, Reynolds left, and joined his friends in the AirBnB steps away from the victims' home. Police questioned the men in the AirBnB residence, and made no arrests that night after the men showed that they were members of law enforcement.
It wasn't until the next-door neighbor provided the surveillance video evidence and other local officers decided to pursue the case, that Reynolds was arrested. He was initially charged with assault and aggravated burglary, a felony.
He eventually pled no contest to the lesser charges of aggravated criminal trespassing and assault, and was sentenced earlier this month to 15 days in prison, plus three years probation.
Reynolds has to begin serving his sentence by the second week of January. His sentence also requires that he regularly check in with probation officers after he serves his jail term.
Halliburton has repeatedly called for Reynolds to be expelled from the police department.
"When you do something like that," Halliburton said after Reynolds's conviction last September, "and you can go to another state, and you can commit a crime, and you're a police officer, what are you doing in New York?"
Her question was one that a growing number of people are also asking, including New York City residents in the 33rd Precinct, uptown, who Reynolds is supposed to serve.
"If it was anybody else, in any other profession, they would've lost their job," Patty Roettger said,
Joseph Wright, another person who lives near the uptown precinct, echoed Roettger's statement.
"If he gets a chance to keep his job, it stains the whole force, everywhere," Wright said.
In the one week that the petition calling for Reynolds's removal has been live on change.org, more than 11,000 people have signed.
In a statement, the NYPD said that Officer Reynolds’ "current duty status is modified. The incident is under internal review."
To help fully understand what that means, PIX11 News consulted Pace University criminologist and former NYPD lieutenant Dr. Darrin Porcher.
"The Constitution allows us to contradict any evidence that's brought against us," Porcher said in an interview. "The same holds true for civil service law."
He went on to explain that state law provides for civil servants to have a hearing with their agency to determine whether or not an employee keeps their job after they've had an infraction.
A law enforcement source with knowledge of Reynolds' case told PIX11 News that his intra-departmental discipline case is moving forward at a strong pace, and that he's expected to be questioned very shortly.
Porcher also said that, to his knowledge, Reynolds' case will be handled expeditiously by the NYPD.
A separate civil case is pending.