Insp. Michael Ameri Was One Of Many NYPD Personnel Questioned In Probe: Sources

WEST BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An NYPD inspector was found dead in his car in West Babylon Friday afternoon, police said.

Inspector Michael Ameri, 44, died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, the NYPD said.

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Ameri was found dead near a golf course on Bergen Avenue in West Babylon around 12:40 p.m., according to Suffolk County police.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, investigators believe Ameri drove his NYPD vehicle to a location near the Bergen Point Golf Course about two miles from his home and shot himself.

Ameri was the commanding officer of the Highway Patrol Unit. He is the former commanding officer of the 78th Precinct in Park Slope, sources said.

Ameri was promoted to head of the Highway Patrol by Commissioner Bill Bratton in 2014. He was a key player in implementing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero program to reduce traffic deaths.

When Ameri was promoted, city Councilman Brad Lander (D-39th) credited him with reducing crime in Park Slope, managing the expansion of the 78th Precinct to include the Barclays Center, starting a program to support and train crossing guards, and establishing a protected bike lane on Bergen Street that he shoveled himself after a January 2014 snowstorm.

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Reaction to Ameri’s death on social media was one of shock. Transportation advocate Aaron Naparstek called Ameri one of the “NYPD’s very best.”

Park Slope Neighbors also issued a tweet calling Ameri “a friend to many Park Slopers.”

Ameri was questioned recently as part of the federal probe of the NYPD, according to sources. He was one of many police officers or officials questioned, and was not disciplined by the department in any way, sources said.

The NYPD probe has centered on two businessmen who have ties to de Blasio’s campaign. Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz both served on de Blasio’s inaugural committee and either donated or raised money for him.

So far, nine police officials, including four deputy chiefs, have been transferred or stripped of their guns and badges as internal affairs detectives and FBI agents examine whether officers accepted gifts and trips from businessmen in exchange for police escorts, special parking privileges and other favors.

The probe has also involved an investigation of payoffs for gun licenses. Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein of Brooklyn has been charged with bribing police to give him gun permits without doing background checks or providing justification for owning a gun.

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The investigation has also focused on fundraising efforts by Mayor de Blasio and his campaign team.