A gung-ho private cop for a gated Brooklyn neighborhood was way out of line when he pulled a gun on an off-duty, veteran NYPD officer in a gas station mini-mart more than a mile outside the seaside development, a lawsuit claims.
Police Officer Albert Dodson said the encounter early last year with the “extremely arrogant” private cop from the Sea Gate Police Department delayed his retirement until last month and kept the 24-year veteran from leaving the force on good terms, his suit filed in Brooklyn civil court says.
“He had no reason to pull his gun at any time,” Dodson told The Post.
The recently retired officer filed suit in August against Sea Gate, its private police force and the peace officer, Darrian Philips, court records show.
Sea Gate has its own privately funded police force composed of roughly two-dozen peace officers who patrol the gated community of about 5,000 people on the eastern tip of the Coney Island peninsula.
The lawsuit claims Sea Gate officers “hold no jurisdiction to stop or effectuate arrests” outside of the community.
Peace officers may work for institutions like universities or government agencies such as the Department of Taxation and Finance, but they are not full-fledged cops and are not automatically issued guns, according to state law. They typically don’t make arrests outside of their jurisdiction — but state law allows them to cuff felony suspects, as well as anyone they see breaking the law who has a good chance of getting away before local police arrive.
The encounter kicked off while Dodson was driving east on Neptune Avenue in Brooklyn around 10 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2019, when a pickup truck pulled up behind his car and began flashing its high beams, according to the lawsuit.
“I was basically racially profiled, because it started on the street, he was following me in a red pick up truck trying attempting to do a car stop,” Dodson, who is black, told The Post. Philips is also black.
Dodson said he pulled over near Coney Island Avenue to allow Philips to pass him and asked the Sea Gate cop “was everything OK?”
Philips responded, asking the NYPD officer, “Is everything was OK with [him]?”
Dodson, who had just left a family member’s house, said yes and drove off.
The Sea Gate cop then followed Dodson into a Mobil gas station mini-mart about a mile from Sea Gate, the lawsuit says.
Dodson, who was carrying his service weapon concealed under his jacket, said he stopped in the store for a ginger ale when he spotted the Sea Gate cop following him around the store.
“What are you doing? Why are you grabbing your gun and looking me up and down like that?” Dodson asked, as he identified himself as NYPD, according to the suit.
“Because I can,” the Sea Gate cop Philips responded before pulling out his weapon, court papers say.
Philips then holsters his gun but keeps his hand on his firearm for much of the remaining encounter, the lawsuit contends.
Cell phone video taken by a store worker shows Philips pacing around with his hand on his gun and talking into his radio — as Dodson stands with arms crossed at the counter.
“Stop grabbing your gun,” Dodson can be heard saying in the clip. “You a cop? You a cop? We don’t act like that.”
“[I] said to him, ‘That’s why we always get bad raps because of cops like you,’” Dodson told The Post. “I was giving him that veteran tongue lashing, I never expected him to pull his firearm, even after I ID’ed myself, not over that.”
Dodson told the Sea Gate cop that his badge was in his car, but when he tried to go retrieve it, Philips grabbed him and the two struggled inside the mini-mart, according to court papers and surveillance video.
Another cell phone video shows part of the struggle as Dodson overpowers Philips while repeatedly instructing him to “stop.”
Cops from the 60th Precinct showed up a few minutes later and verified Dodson’s ID, the suit says.
The off-duty cop was taken to Sea Gate, where a sergeant questioned him — but he was cut free with no charges, records show.
Dodson said in his lawsuit he warned by Sea Gate cops not to call NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau, being told by one of the peace officers, “I have seen these things turn bad.” He also claims he tried to report the incident to the NYPD but cops in the 60th Precinct refused a take report “out of professional courtesy.”
Philips later revised his report to say that he spotted Dodson’s gun, which Dodson claims wasn’t possible, according to the suit.
Dodson, who served on the NYPD’s VIPER surveillance unit, was placed on modified duty over the incident, which he says delayed his planned June 10 retirement by months as he tried to fight an internal charge of not listening to a peace officer.
After months of delays thanks changes in trial dates, Dodson gave up and retired the week of Feb. 17. The ordeal kept Dodson from leaving with his “good guy” letter, which informs future employers that an officer left the NYPD in good standing and is allowed to carry a retired badge and gun, the suit claims.
Dodson is seeking unspecified damages.
“The brazen illegal actions of the Sea Gate Police Department have caused Mr. Dodson to suffer greatly,” his attorney, John Scola, told The Post. “It is fortunate, and a testament to Officer Dodson’s twenty years experience, that this incident did not turn deadly, as he was able to remain calm while illegally being held at gun point.”
Calls to the Sea Gate Homeowners Association were not returned. Lawyers for the community denied any wrongdoing in response to the lawsuit on Feb. 20, court records show.
Philips could not be reached for comment.
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