A grand jury indicted Officer Diego Palacios – formerly of the 61st Precinct – on felony charges for locking up an apparently innocent Sheepshead Bay man who the officer claimed tried to run him over in his car.
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes revealed the grand jury’s decision yesterday, indicting the officer on five types of lying: offering a false instrument for filing, falsifying business records, making an apparently sworn false statement, perjury and making a punishable false written statement. He was also charged with official misconduct, the New York Times reports.
Falsifying business records is a felony offense for which Palacios was charged with two counts.
Palacios arrested East 23rd Street resident John Hockenjos in February, saying on a police report that he drove his car at “a high rate of speed” towards the officer in an attempt to hit him, forcing him “to jump out of the way.” Hockenjos was charged with felony reckless endangerment and spent several days behind bars.
But surveillance video provided by Hockenjos showed that the officer was standing in his driveway when he pulled in, slowly, and that the officer never budged.
After the surveillance footage surfaced, Palacios, an 8-year veteran of the NYPD, was transferred to a different precinct and placed on desk duty. He has now been suspended.
All charges against Hockenjos have been dropped. His wife, Irena, who faced a summons for disorderly conduct, has also been cleared.
In March, Hockenjos confronted the 61st Precinct Deputy Inspector about the incident at a Community Council meeting, telling him that he now feared to call the police.
“I feel unprotected. I’m now afraid to call 911 … I’m afraid for my life,” Hockenjos said. “I can’t protect myself, commander. I can’t do it. All I can do is take pictures.”
Hockenjos’s wife Irena has called Sheepshead Bites on numerous occasions since the arrest, expressing her frustrations and fears that she cannot call police when she feels in danger around the home, and especially not for disputes emerging from their ongoing feud with a neighbor they claim is building on their property. The police have been called to the scene many times by both the Hockenjoses and the neighbor, and it was the neighbor who had summoned Palacios to the scene in February.