BY ROCCO PARASCANDOLA. STAFF WRITER
Copyright 2006 Newsday, Inc.
Donald Medard is not your typical New York City police officer.
Born in Haiti, he served in the U.S. Army, then joined the force at 27, striking others in the Police Academy as disciplined and mature, according to a police source familiar with his service record.
Three years later, he finds himself behind bars, charged in a gun case and labeled in headlines as "The Hip-Hop Cop" for his self-described connection to the rap world and friendship with several rappers.
In a jailhouse interview recently, Medard refused to talk about the rappers he knows, but he did make a startling accusation - he claims he was set up by Internal Affairs supervisors because he no longer wanted to work for them as a registered field associate, feeding investigators dirt on police misconduct.
"I was told they would find a way to destroy me," Medard said. "They said they could get me fired if I tried to get out of Internal Affairs."
Medard's claim that he was working for Internal Affairs also is documented in court papers related to the illegal gun charges for which he was arrested in Washington Heights last December.
But while Chief of Internal Affairs Charles Campisi would not comment on the case, another high-ranking official said Medard is telling a tall tale.
Once, the official said, Medard called Internal Affairs with a tip, but he backed out of cooperating when investigators pressed him for more details.
Still, Medard's claim - and the NYPD's denial - could make for interesting theater if the case goes to trial.
Medard's lawyer, Alexander Lombard, a retired NYPD lieutenant, said his client has phone numbers for Internal Affairs investigators and names of those who know about his deep cover assignment. And, Medard noted, it is not unusual for Internal Affairs to have unregistered moles on the force - an arrangement that would allow the NYPD to use Medard without admitting he was working with Internal Affairs.
Lombard also said much is unclear about the circumstances surrounding Medard's off-duty arrest.
"There's a lot here that does not make sense," Lombard said. "I have a lot of questions about the 911 call for an assault that supposedly led police to my client."
Medard, a three-year veteran assigned to the 104th Precinct in Woodside, was pulled over early last Dec. 27 because his black GMC Yukon matched the description provided by a 911 caller reporting what turned out to be an unfounded assault, police said.
Medard was arrested anyway because, in addition to his service weapon, there were three guns with identification numbers scratched off in the car, one under the driver's seat and two under the back seat, police said.
Also arrested were the other three men in the car: Michael Jacob, 22, Claude Dorsica, 20, and Wendell Robinson, 26, who is a paroled drug dealer.
A prosecutor later said in court that Medard "was part of a plan to shake down and rob drug dealers in the area."
The four suspects, however, have not been picked out of any lineups and have thus far been indicted only for gun possession. Medard has not yet posted bail.
Neither he nor his lawyer would answer questions about the defaced guns.
Jacob's lawyer did not respond to request for comment, but both Dorsica's lawyer and Robinson's lawyer said the guns don't belong to their clients.
The night of his arrest, Medard told police supervisors he was working as a field associate, according to police sources and court papers.
In the jailhouse interview, he also told Newsday that three days before his arrest, a colleague warned him that Internal Affairs was looking to "get him."
Neither the colleague nor an Internal Affairs lieutenant, also named by Medard as familiar with his role as a field associate, responded to a request for comment.
Medard, who is 30 and has two children, told Newsday he became a field associate while still in the academy and assisted his handlers on a number of different cases, most involving minor infractions.
He said his handlers would notify him by phone if they needed to see him and that he usually met them at a secret location in the Bronx near a bus yard. Several months before his arrest, he said, his handlers started visiting him at his Queens home. The switch made him uncomfortable, he said, and he told them he no longer wanted to work for Internal Affairs.
"It did not make sense to me that they were coming to my home," Medard said. "They would not explain to me why they were coming to my home. When I said I didn't want to do this anymore, I was told I had no choice.
"They said I could not do that."
All four suspects are due back in court in August.
Medard is still in jail, unable to raise $4,000 bail. He said he looks forward to vindicating himself and going back to the job he loves.
"I always wanted to be a cop," he said.
May 31, 2006
N.Y. officer says arrest is retaliation