NYC Pays $1 Million To Man Who Police Attempted to Frame With DWI

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NYC Pays $1 Million To Man Who Police Attempted to Frame With DWI

By Bryan Le 03/05/18

The officers involved have not faced charges and still have jobs at the NYPD.

Image: 
Two cartoon cops vintage style.
Crime doesn't pay.

The NYPD tried to frame 33-year-old Oliver Wiggins with a DWI after their car collided with his in April 2015, but ran into a little snafu—it turns out Wiggins doesn’t drink.

It turns out that NYPD officers were driving a little recklessly in their marked SUV and blew through a Brooklyn stop sign before slamming into Wiggins’ car. Rather than owning up to the fact they could have killed Wiggins, they instead tried to pin the blame on him with a DWI charge.

This was despite the fact that he passed a breath test on the scene.

Wiggins, who was hospitalized following the incident, was left to pick up the pieces. He was hit with the DWI charge, had his license suspended, and had to foot the bill for the repairs on his 2004 Nissan Maxima because his insurance refused to cover the costs on account of the alleged intoxication.

But Wiggins fought back—at the hospital, he volunteered himself for an array of blood tests for alcohol and drugs, all of which, of course, came back negative. These reports were corroborated by the responding EMT as well as the DWI technician on the case.

Officer Justin Joseph submitted an official report with a very different story. He wrote that he observed Wiggins exhibiting slurred speech, watery eyes, and that he smelled of alcohol and was swaying.

Scott Rynecki, Wiggins’ attorney, said his client does not even drink. Three months after the incident, prosecutors dropped the charges, but that wasn’t enough for Wiggins and his lawyer. They sued officers Joseph, Jason Conway, Greg Gingo, Matthew Sabella, Chris Connor, and the city of New York.

Aside from the aforementioned damages, Wiggins also sustained a wrist injury that now requires him to use a brace.

But he's remained positive throughout the experience, which has inspired him to become a police officer himself. “This situation really made him understand the power of the badge and that police have to be honest because that’s how an innocent man can face frivolous charges,” said Rynecki.

The case was eventually settled without trial.

“Settling this case was in the best interest of the city,” said a Law Department spokesman.

Following the 2015 incident, Wiggins sent a letter to the District Attorney to request that the involved officers be investigated. All officers involved have faced no charges and still work for the department.

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