New York City policemen are under no obligation to protect the city’s denizens from harm. So says the city in response to a lawsuit by a man who was attacked on the subway by a man with a knife.
Joseph Lozito said police officers Terrance Howell and Tamara Taylor, who were on the subway at the same time, ignored Maksim Gelman as he stormed about the subway in a drug-fueled rage. They even dismissed other passengers who tried to warn them about Gelman’s actions.
Lozito identified Gelman as the man who approached him telling him he was going to die before plunging a knife into Lozito’s face. Lozito wrestled Gelman to the ground — enduring multiple stab wounds to the back of the head while doing so — and held him until Howell tapped him on the shoulder and told him to get up.
Howell claims — and the city is backing him — that it was he who subdued Gelman. Lozito sued the city saying the officers’ lack of action was to blame for the attack.
The city is refusing to settle on the grounds that its officers had no duty to protect train passengers, but “that doesn’t detract from the Police Department’s public safety mission.”
It is cliché to say that when seconds count, police are only minutes away. But it appears it doesn’t matter whether police are near or far. In an increasing number of cases, it’s obvious police care more about their own safety than the public they claim they want “to protect and serve.”