Army Vet turned NYPD fights off five subway vagrants

Lauren Warner
December 26, 2018 - 1:06 pm

Courtesy of NYPD Muslim Officers Society

One NYPD officer went viral for his composure while handling a band of vagrants on the New York City subway. 

It's no surprise that Officer Syed Ali is a U.S. Army veteran who previously served in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. 

With over four million views on Twitter, the viral video caught the attention of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took to Twitter to praise Ali's “extraordinary professionalism and bravery." His actions also earned him a citation from Councilman Chaim Deutsch, and the NYPD Muslim Officers Society, of which he’s a member.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Captain Adeel Rana, President of the NYPD Muslim Officers Society said, “[w>e’d like to commend him for his use of restraint where he made sure that he utilized the minimum (force) necessary. It might have something to do with his military training but the majority of it is him being calm under pressure situations.”

The incident occurred Sunday night while Ali was assigned to a solo counter-terrorism post at the East Broadway F train stop in Lower Manhattan. During his shift, a woman approached him and said a group of homeless men were harassing her. He told them to leave and they “approached him aggressively,” police sources said. The viral video captured what happened next: as the men came at him, one by one, Ali used his baton and feet to keep the men at bay. When one of the men fell onto the tracks trying to attack him, he called the MTA officials to cut the power and radioed for help. 

The five homeless men were taken into custody, however, the Manhattan District Attorney's office decided not to pursue charges against them. According to the Daily News, the D.A. is taking heat from the police officer's union for their decision: “There’s no telling how much damage these mopes would have done to that courageous police officer had he not been equipped to handle them. Had it gone the other way we might have had a seriously injured or dead police officer instead,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “It’s wrong that they were not charged for attacking him. The District Attorney’s job is to prosecute crimes, not to act like a social advocate.”

Officer Ali's video continues to spread, creating an outpouring of support for the NYPD and veteran communities. 

Former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton — credited with helping clean up the subways as Transit Police chief in the early 1990s — told the Daily News the city must deal with the vagrancy and quality-of-life issues that led to the attack on Ali.

 

Want to get more connected to the great stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here and sign up for our weekly newsletter.