NY Cop Gets Stinging Wrist-Slap After Terrorizing Black Nashville Family. Still Has NY Cop Job.
Last year, New York City police officer Michael J. Reynolds was visiting Nashville, Tennessee, which everyone should do, when he got drunk and broke into the house next to his Airbnb, which no one should do. He didn't just fall asleep in a child's bedroom like a pre-Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. He terrorized the family inside. Conese Halliburton, who actually lived there, described Reynolds kicking in her door, as if he was re-enacting the SWAT raid of his dreams. Video surveillance footage backed up her account.
In surveillance footage with audio shared by Halliburton's neighbor, [Reynolds] can be heard saying "Try to shoot me, and I'll break every f---ing bone in your f---ing neck," before calling them "f---ing n------."
Although Reynolds didn't kill anyone like a common Amber Guyger, he roamed around Halliburton's home like a wild animal, shouting, "This is my motherfucking house!" Halliburton's sons tried to protect her from Reynolds, who refused to leave until Halliburton told him she'd called the police. Reynolds straight-up threatened their lives before finally leaving. Once he was outside, Halliburton could hear another man ask Reynolds, "Did you make her strip?"
Halliburton told the police to that a group of men were staying at the Airbnb next door. Those police interviewed Reynolds but didn't arrest him. These are cops not reporters working on a local color feature. Reynolds should've checked out of the Airbnb in cuffs. It's unclear what laws he didn't break, but thin blue line, y'all.
The next day, Halliburton confronted her neighbor's "guest" in the light of day. He laughed in her face. It was no big deal. He'd gotten drunk and had a little fun. Reynolds said he was "sorry" while gracing Halliburton with a slasher smile.
According to neighbor Joetta Alderson, a short man in the group, which testimony revealed is Reynolds' best friend, Thomas Geberth, said: "We are police from New York. You don't need to make a big deal about it. We were just drinking."
It took a while, but Reynolds was eventually arrested and charged with assault and aggravated burglary. The Halliburton family might receive justice for the trauma he inflicted. Reynolds even pleaded "no contest" to one count of aggravated criminal trespassing and three counts of assault. Wheels of justice, get to grinding!
Judge Mark Fishburn questioned the sincerity of Reynolds's non-apology. He called the racial slurs Reynolds spat at the Halliburtons "abhorrent and repugnant."
"I'm not sure what might have happened had she (Halliburton) not been on the phone with police," Fishburn said. "The main thing is this not be swept under the rug. The kind of conduct that occurred that night just cannot be tolerated under any circumstances."
The judge didn't exactly strike Reynolds down with "great vengeance and furious anger," though. He sentenced him to two weeks in jail and a month's probation. There's no word yet if Donald Trump plans to pardon him. This is not a just sentence. It is laughable and insulting.
Reynolds was decommissioned and suspended for 30 days but he's still employed with the NYPD, which has had more than enough time to fire his ass. Let's hope that at the very least he's banned from Airbnb.
Outside the courtroom after sentencing, Halliburton's brother smiled and shook hands with two detectives who tracked Reynolds down and identified him as the assailant in the case.
"I'm glad he didn't get the favoritism he thought he was going to get," Halliburton said as she stood next to her brother. "He didn't even seem remorseful. Maybe he'll have time to think about it in jail, but I doubt it."
Halliburton's family will spend the rest of their lives thinking about the night Reynolds invaded their home. They don't have the luxury of having been "blackout drunk" as Reynolds claimed. Halliburton's two youngest sons, who were 8 and 11 at the time, still have nightmares. Lights stay on all night at their house. They don't feel safe anymore. They suffered a permanent injury that Reynolds won't bother to remember by early next year.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.