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NYPD inspector attempted to cover up his girlfriend drunkenly crashing his police car: Prosecutors

A New York Police Department captain has been charged with lying to investigators and trying to erase video footage that showed his boyfriend drunkenly crashing his patrol car into a taxi, prosecutors said.

Deputy Inspector Paul Zangrilli, who led the Manhattan Police Department, is accused of trying to cover up the 2022 accident through several actions, including swapping seats with his girlfriend after the crash and giving money to the cab driver.

Zangrilli has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and his lawyer, Eric Franz, told media: Including GothamistHis client was a respected inspector looking forward to “defending his reputation.”

According to Manhattan prosecutors, Zangrilli went out drinking with his girlfriend for a few hours one night in the summer of 2022 and let her drive an unmarked police vehicle, which crashed into a taxi. The woman then fled the scene with Zangrilli in the passenger seat.

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Deputy Inspector Paul Zangrilli is accused of trying to cover up the 2022 accident. (iStock)

But instead of turning his girlfriend over to police, Zangrilli swapped seats with her and continued driving, prosecutors said. The cab driver caught up with them at a red light and waved another police officer to stop him, but instead of exchanging insurance information, Zangrilli repeatedly offered the cab driver $500 or $1,000, prosecutors said.

Zangrilli then allegedly called the police chief and made several false claims, including that he was driving alone and on his way to work when the accident occurred.

Zangrilli then registered to work in his jurisdiction and called the bar owner, asking him to delete video footage that showed three hours of him drinking with his girlfriend, prosecutors said.

“This conduct was extremely dangerous, injuring a taxi driver and endangering the safety of many other drivers and pedestrians,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. “Furthermore, the NYPD lieutenant in command at the time allegedly did everything he could to cover up the incident in order to avoid responsibility. We will continue to hold public officials accountable when they betray the public trust.”

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A parked New York Police Department vehicle.

Prosecutors said Zangrilli repeatedly offered cab drivers $500 or $1,000 in exchange for exchanging insurance information. (Nicholas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Zangrilli has been charged with multiple felonies including tampering with evidence, submitting a false document and falsifying business records, as well as misdemeanor charges related to driving under the influence, misconduct and obstruction. The NYPD said in a statement that Zangrilli has been suspended without pay.

His girlfriend was also charged with drunk driving but pleaded not guilty.

The taxi driver injured in the accident settled a lawsuit against the city over his injuries for $75,000, court records state, according to Gothamist.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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