Suspect Talked About 'How Easy It Would Be' To Shoot A Cop, Police Say

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — NYPD officers arrested a man on Tuesday who allegedly talked about “how easy it would be to shoot a police officer” while holding his iPhone like a gun and pretended to shoot as a squad car went by.

Two uniformed officers in a marked squad car were stopped at a red light at 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem around 9 p.m. Tuesday, when a sport-utility vehicle also heading west on 125th Street slowed to stop next to them in a lane to the right, police said.

But the green 2005 Chevrolet TrailBlazer did not pull up alongside the squad car in the adjoining lane, police said. Instead, its driver stopped just short at the rear of the passenger’s side, and the officer driving the squad car looked over his shoulder.

The 26-year-old officer saw the driver of the TrailBlazer with his arms extended, and his hands clasped around an object that appeared to be a weapon, police said. He was pointing the object at the head of the officer in the passenger seat of the squad car, police said.

The driver of the Chevrolet then made a shooting motion twice with the item before the light turned green and the driver went, police said.

“I absolutely thought we were dead,” the officer in the driver’s seat said in the release. He was a member of the NYPD Cadet Corps as a college student and has been a full-fledged police officer for almost three years, police said.

The officers quickly pulled over the sport-utility vehicle, which had Pennsylvania license plates registered to an energy sales company that solicits clients to switch their providers, police said. There were seven people in the vehicle including the driver, and all of them were co-workers about to be dropped off at various spots, police said.

Police asked the driver, Unique Johnson, what he was thinking, the NYPD said. He replied that he told one of his co-workers how easy he thought it would be to shoot an on-duty police officer, and went on to simulate shooting by pulling out his iPhone in its deep-blue case, police said.
Police said Johnson told investigators, “I then put the cell phone and pointed like a gun, as if I was shooting a police officer at an angle.”

Johnson was charged with menacing a police officer, harassment, disorderly conduct, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, police said. He was arrested in Brooklyn in October for talking on his cellphone while driving a van for the same sales company, police said.

A detective who debriefed Johnson and the others in the vehicle said the officers whom Johnson allegedly pretended to shoot showed “tremendous restraint.”

The incident came at a time of high anxiety for the NYPD, particularly since officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot and killed execution-style while sitting in their squad car in Brooklyn. Police have also been on high alert since Zale Thompson, who had allegedly visited many jihadist websites, threw a hatchet and hit an officer in the head in Queens, the NYPD said.

Since the Liu and Ramos shooting, police have investigated 126 threats to officers in New York City, the NYPD said. Eighty-five cases have been closed, while 41 remain active and open, police said.

Nearly 30 people have been arrested in connection with the threats, police said.

The NYPD has also been on alert since ISIS posted a video on Twitter calling for attacks on police officers and soldiers in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and France. The video appeared on Saturday, authorities said.

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