Jose LaSalle says prosecutors and members of the New York Police Department are protecting a group of officers that he recorded fabricating charges against him.

In a lengthy profile by The Appeal, LaSalle says his phone recorded audio of his entire 2016 arrest. This shocking recording provides hard evidence of police officers attempting to pin a variety of fake charges on him because he founded the Copwatch Patrol Unit, an activist group dedicated to filming police interactions.

In March, the NYPD agreed to pay him a settlement of $860,000. However, prosecutors and the city's police chief refused to remove the officers from duty.

“Something’s got to happen. Because I’m not going to stop until these officers are no longer on the job continuing to do these things to other people. So I’m going to keep fighting for that,” LaSalle told the Appeal. ”And I know it’s a long road ahead of me, but guess what? Thanks to the NYPD, I got a little bit of money to make a little more noise.”

LaSalle was arrested in August 2016 after filming a police stop-and-frisk. He had built up a reputation as one of the city's most infamous cop watchers following a series of huge raids on alleged gang activity in the Bronx's Eastchester Gardens housing complex. After filming their harassment of two men, LaSalle was arrested by three officers, Sgt. Miguel Frias, Officer Felix Baez, and Officer Elvis F. Duran.

They brought him to NYPD’s Police Service Area 7 in the Bronx and officers cheered when they saw him walking through the police station. Little did they know the phone in his pocket was recording everything. The district attorney refused to prosecute so police officers released him Unfortunately,  he was rearrested  at the request of the police precinct's leaders.

Again, prosecutors dropped the charges and sealed the file in hopes that the problem would go away. When LaSalle went to pick up his phone and equipment, he realized much of it had been recording the entire interaction as well as officer discussions about what to charge LaSalle with. 

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“When we got the audio tape back and we’re listening to their conversation, you could hear them trying to figure out a felony to charge him with,” LaSalle's lawyer Jeffrey Emdin told The Appeal. “Then, there’s even some conversation, and they’re going to say it was joking but I submit that it was tongue-in-cheek joking, of ‘Oh, maybe we can slip the ADA $800 and stick him with a gun charge.’”

Throughout the recording, officers considered making up crimes to charge him with and even admitted that they had no reason to arrest LaSalle in the first place.

LaSalle is not satisfied with his payout and has held a number of protests at police precincts across the city. He wants the officers removed and said it was ridiculous the amount of money taxpayers lose by covering for police officers who continue to unfairly abuse citizens.

According to New York City's Comptroller, the city paid $230 million alone in 2018 to settle 3,745 lawsuits against the NYPD. The officers specifically involved in this case have cost the city an astounding $6 million in settlements.

“Imagine how many people that don’t have the reputation, the reach, and the resources that Jose LaSalle has. They get fucked, and there’s nobody there. There’s no technology on their phone to save them. They just get stuck in the system,” said Kim Ortiz, an activist involved with the Copwatch Patrol Unit

He told The Appeal that he plans to take the case to New York Attorney General Leticia James. NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill still has not listened to the audio and has not made any effort to remove the officers implicated in LaSalle's audio. 

“We gathered in front of the Bronx district attorney’s office to send her a message that she needs to indict these officers that have cost the city close to a million dollars and are still working, and are still doing the same things that they’ve been doing,” LaSalle said to The Appeal.

“And also, from there, we ended up marching to PSA 7 because we want to send them a message, too, that what they’re doing is standing behind criminals. These officers perjured themselves, and they committed a crime because they tried to set me up with felony charges.”

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