MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The man sworn in as Mount Vernon police commissioner on Monday was arrested on Tuesday when he showed up for work.
It marked the latest day of dysfunction in New York’s eighth largest city, CBSN New York’s Tony Aiello reported.
“This is the worst place it ever could be right now and I was born and raised here,” resident Stephan Ritter said.
For more than a week, two men have claimed to be the mayor of Mount Vernon. One of them moved Monday to appoint a new police commissioner. It didn’t go well when the appointee showed up for work.
Shawn Harris took the oath of office Monday, shortly after the man who claims to be acting mayor, City Council President Andre Wallace, named Harris as the head of the department. But when Harris arrived at police headquarters on Tuesday, he was arrested.
Harris spent nine hours in custody, but was finally released when the Westchester County district attorney declined to press charges.
“It has been an embarrassment for me and my family and the great city of Mount Vernon and the citizens who I’ve served my entire adult life,” Harris said.
So why was Harris arrested in the first place?
“The reality is, he trespassed. He should have not done that. He was warned,” Mayor Richard Thomas said.
Harris served as commissioner for three years until Thomas fired him in March. So, he was arrested by cops he supervised just a few months ago.
Thomas was elected mayor in 2015, but after pleading guilty to campaign finance misdemeanors agreed to step down by the end of September.
That’s not good enough for the city council, which claims Thomas forfeited his office when he pleaded guilty. The council gave Thomas a deadline last week to pack up and move out.
Thomas, however, has made no move to empty out his mayoral chamber and said he has no plans to do so.
“As you can see, they didn’t storm this office to change the locks. They tried to storm the police department and got a rude awakening. There’s an existing court order that says until the fall, I’m mayor until I’m not. That’s not gonna change,” Thomas said.
Harris and his lawyer said they are discussing whether he will show up for work at the police department on Wednesday.
What is clear, the mess in Mount Vernon is showing no signs of abating.