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NYPD Officer Tried to Cover Up Crash with Cab After He Let His Allegedly Drunk Girlfriend Drive Cop Car: Officials

NYPD Officer Allegedly Let Drunken Date Drive Police Car
Source: MEGA

NYPD Deputy Inspector Paul Zangrilli was indicted for allowing his date to drunkenly drive his car.

Jun. 22 2024, Published 10:03 a.m. ET

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A New York City Police Department Deputy Inspector was indicted for allegedly allowing his drunken girlfriend to drive his NYPD vehicle in 2022, and after she allegedly struck a cab, attempting to cover up the incident, officials said.

Paul Zangrilli, 44, is charged with one count of tampering with physical evidence; two counts of falsifying business records in the first degree; two counts of offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree; one count of obstructing governmental administration in the second degree; two counts of official misconduct; one count of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated; and one count of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

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The woman, Nikole Rupple, 35, was charged with one count of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and one count of leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, with personal injury.

According to the indictment, Zangrilli, who was the commanding officer of the NYPD’s 5th Precinct at the time, and Rupple, whom he was dating at the time, drove to the bar American Whiskey near Penn Station on the evening on August 16, 2022. Over the course of approximately three hours, Zangrilli allegedly consumed five shots and seven beers while Rupple consumed seven shots and three beers.

When they left at approximately 8:40 p.m., Zangrilli allowed Rupple to drive his unmarked, department-issued vehicle, while he rode in the passenger seat. Minutes later, Rupple allegedly crashed into a livery cab at the intersection of West 30th Street and 10th Avenue, injuring the cab driver’s back and neck, and damaging his car.

Rupple allegedly sped away from the scene, then pulled over a few blocks away to switch seats with Zangrilli. He then allegedly drove northbound on 10th Avenue.

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But the cab driver caught up to them and, while stopped at the same red light on West 33rd Street and 10th Avenue, called to a uniformed NYPD officer in a marked vehicle for help. When the light turned green, Zangrilli drove ahead, and the cab driver followed. The uniformed officer proceeded to pull Zangrilli's car over.

The cab driver informed the officer that the defendants were drunk and had fled the scene of the accident, but the officer told the cab driver to fill out a report at the precinct. Zangrilli, meanwhile, allegedly "repeatedly" offered $500 and $1,000 to the victim "both in the uniformed officer’s presence and after she left."

New York City

While the cab driver called 911, Zangrilli allegedly called a duty captain to come to the scene. Zangrilli allegedly lied to the duty captain and said he had been driving to work when the collision occurred, and that he had safely pulled over. Rupple was "lingering away from the scene out of sight."

Based on the allegedly false information, the duty captain then instructed another officer to complete required department-vehicle collision paperwork.

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Later, Zangrilli allegedly signed in for duty at the 5th Precinct and called the owner of American Whiskey and asked him to delete surveillance video from that night. The video was deleted the next morning.

The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau, meanwhile, was notified of the incident that night. Zangrilli had allegedly falsely told an inspector at 10:50 p.m. that he had gone home, but when IAB arrived at his home to conduct a fitness for duty check at midnight, he wasn't there. He was later found at Rupple's apartment.

After IAB executed a search warrant at American Whiskey several days later, investigators were eventually able to recover the deleted surveillance video.

“This alleged behavior was incredibly dangerous, leading to injuries for one cab driver and putting the safety of many other drivers and pedestrians at risk. Furthermore, this NYPD Deputy Inspector, then a Commanding Officer, allegedly went to great lengths to cover up the incident to avoid responsibility,” District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. “We will continue to hold public servants accountable when they violate the public trust.”

TMX contributed to this report.


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