State Watch

Federal probe of NYPD officers reveals ‘unabashedly racist’ texts

New York Police Department Sign with Logo on Police Patrol Car

A federal corruption probe of two current and one retired New York Police Department (NYPD) officers revealed that the retired officer repeatedly sent “unabashedly racist” text messages.

Prosecutors announced Tuesday that a court unsealed an indictment charging NYPD officers Heather Busch and Robert Hassett and former NYPD officer Robert Smith with five counts of using interstate facilities to commit bribery and two counts of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act. Smith, who retired from the NYPD in March 2020, was also charged with attempting to transport at least one kilogram of heroin and possessing a firearm during the commission of that crime.

In a letter arguing Smith should be detained pending trial, prosecutors alleged he participated other criminal conduct he wasn’t charged for.

Authorities said they found text messages after his retirement saying that he would brandish his firearm at Black Americans to terrorize them.

“Bro I point my gun out the window now” at Black people, Smith reportedly texted. “And watch their reaction and drive way. Hilarious.”

In a footnote, the government said Smith’s “unabashedly racist and hate-filled language in his communications included regular references to Black individuals” using racial slurs and “numerous references to the Ku Klux Klan, including one—just after his retirement—in which he wrote, ‘Now the real [S]mith will shine. I even shaved my head. Klan.'”

The government also said that Smith bragged in text messages about engaging in robberies and shakedowns as an NYPD officer for bribe payments.

“Bro I robbed everyone,” Smith texted, according to the letter.

Smith, Hassett and Busch are accused of participating in three schemes between 2016 and 2020.

In 2016, Smith and Hassett allegedly responded to automobile accidents by directing damaged vehicles to a tow truck and repair business that was run by an unnamed individual in exchange for thousands of dollars in bribes. The two paused the scheme in 2017, but Smith resumed it in 2019, and Busch joined in 2020, prosecutors allege.

Smith and Hassett are also accused of a scheme in which they obtained names and information of accident victims from NYPD databases and sold them to the individual for cash. That person then sold the data to businesses and attorneys so they could solicit customers, prosecutors say.

Also in 2020, prosecutors say Smith participated a scheme with the man to transport illegal narcotics in exchange for money. The retired officer allegedly met with an individual in Brooklyn in July and accepted a bag containing a kilogram of heroin and then delivered it to another individual Queens.

According to NBC News, Smith was ordered into custody until a bail hearing. Bush and Hassett were released on $200,000 bonds. The current officers were suspended without pay.

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