NYPD sergeant gets light sentence for attacks against handcuffed suspectsby Tamar Lapin Social Links for Tamar Lapin View Author Archive Get author RSS feed · New York Post
A veteran NYPD sergeant got a slap on the wrist Wednesday after pleading guilty to slugging two handcuffed suspects — with a Manhattan judge saying the hothead cop just “snapped.”
Sgt. Phillip Wong, a 16-year member of the department, was sentenced in Manhattan Supreme Court to two years of probation, 70 hours of community service and anger management or counseling after pleading guilty to assault and attempted assault.
Wong, 37, had faced jail time after admitting to punching a suspect in a holding cell and attacking a man who yelled anti-Asian slurs at him during an arrest.
Prosecutors with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office had requested a 60-day sentence, pointing out the cop knew he was being investigated by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau for the first attack when he pounced on a second suspect six months later.
But Acting Supreme Court Justice Curtis Farber disagreed, sympathizing with Wong over the pressures of the uniform and citing the officer’s “unblemished” police record.
“Due to the stresses of this job, I understand that he snapped,” Farber said during the hearing.
As a result, Wong “faces the loss of his career and potentially the loss of his pension,” the judge continued, saying the punishment imposed was “just” under the circumstances.
Wong, who was assigned to Transit District 3, was indicted in July on charges of assault and attempted assault for both incidents. The first took place on Oct. 4, 2019, after cops hauled an unruly 48-year-old suspect into the precinct.
The handcuffed man kicked a door and began spitting at officers as they tried to put him inside a holding cell — prompting Wong to jump in and punch him in the face, prosecutors said.
The suspect had to get stitches for a cut above his right eye as a result.
Then on April 29, 2020, Wong pounced on another handcuffed man inside an Upper West Side subway station. Wong and other cops had moved in to arrest the 35-year-old suspect after seeing him punch a passenger on a train at West 96th Street and Broadway, according to the indictment.
As he was being led out of the station, the perp kicked Wong and shouted anti-Asian slurs at him, prompting the cop and another officer to take him to the ground, prosecutors said.
Wong knelt on the suspect’s back, as the man continued to taunt him — before yelling, “I can’t breathe,” according to the indictment.
“I don’t give a f–k if you can breathe or not,” Wong allegedly replied as he punched the man in the side of the face.
Wong had originally pleaded not guilty to the charges and was suspended without pay. He was later reassigned to desk duty at the NYPD’s fleet services but is expected to be fired, his lawyer said.
The officer has an internal trial later this month, at which point department brass will decide whether to allow him to keep his pension when he is canned.
“Law enforcement officials are sworn to serve and protect their communities, including New Yorkers in their custody,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in a statement. “In this case, Sergeant Wong violated not only his oath – but the law – during the violent arrests of two New Yorkers, on two separate occasions.”
Additional reporting by Craig McCarthy and Steven Hirsch