By Natasha Brown
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia police officer has been placed on desk duty after being caught on video pressuring a motorist to buy tickets to a police fundraiser.
“You and your friend got any money to buy these Thrill Show tickets to support your police department? Ten bucks each man. Either you buy these or I take your car. Because it’s unregistered.”
Those are the words of 32-year-old Officer Matthew Zagursky in a video secretly recorded by the driver during a routine traffic stop, and then posted to Facebook. The driver — who asked not to be identified — told CBS 3 it wasn’t so much the officer’s demand as his attitude.
“I thought he was bluffing. It wasn’t the tickets, it was the point,” the driver said. “He didn’t have to talk down to me. That’s the only reason. He showed me no respect.”
If fact, the nine-year veteran of the police force can be heard mocking the driver about his pink windshield wipers.
–Officer: “What’s up with the wipers?”
–Driver: “Breast cancer man. My grandmom went through it.”
–Officer: “Breast cancer I can understand, but can’t you support breast cancer in another way. You look like a fruitcake.”
The tickets were for the Hero Thrill Show, an annual fundraiser benefiting children of police officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is outraged by the video and didn’t mince words when it came to his reaction.
“I thought it was stupid on the part of the officer. I mean it’s certainly inappropriate. There’s no part about the video that I like, there’s no part that’s justifiable, at all,” Ramsey said. “Not only is his language on one of the tapes homophobic, which obviously is a violation of our policy and not what we expect from our officers, but then a second video, which deals with the tickets for the
Hero Thrill Show, is equally, equally bad.”
The video has racked up hundreds of thousands of views on social media since it was posted Thursday night. Despite the alleged encounter, the driver says he plans to attend the Hero Thrill Show.
“I’m probably going to go,” he told CBS 3. “I’m still going to go. I mean I bought them.”
The officer has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation.
Meantime, Commissioner Ramsey says Zagursky could be facing criminal charges for misconduct.