By Nathan Duke
City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) is calling on the city Police Department to dismiss all summonses written by a Queens traffic agent whom the councilman alleges was driving recklessly and running stop signs in Whitestone last week.
Halloran said he and his chief of staff were driving along 150th Street in Whitestone June 14 when they allegedly spotted traffic agent Daniel Chu talking on his cell phone while speeding down the street with his siren on. He also accused the agent of driving recklessly and then parking illegally in front of a crosswalk on Clintonville Street while he went into a Dunkin’ Donuts store and bought an iced coffee.
Halloran followed the agent in his car and approached him as he left the coffee shop.
“He comes out and sees me snapping pictures,” the councilman said. “He was irate and went ballistic. He said, ‘You want to take pictures of me? I’ll give you a ticket.’”
Halloran was then handed a $155 ticket for blocking the pedestrian ramp. But the councilman said his car was idling, not parked, and that Chu’s vehicle was blocking the sidewalk.
“The parking was not the issue,” Halloran said. “It’s the public safety issue. He was driving at high rates of speed like he was going to an emergency. He was swerving back and forth and blowing through stop signs. This is not what traffic enforcement is here for. He gave me a summons to basically try to get himself out of the trouble he’d gotten himself into. He was caught parking illegally. He got called on the carpet.”
An NYPD spokeswoman said the case was being investigated by the chief of transportation’s investigations unit. But the department said Chu would not be available for an interview.
The councilman recorded Chu with his iPhone as he wrote the ticket. He said the pictures he took showed the door of his own car was open and that the lights were on. His car was running and not parked at the time, he said.
Halloran said he has asked the NYPD to review all of Chu’s summons and that his office has received numerous complaints about the agent following the recent incident.
“If he’s willing to lie about a councilman’s car, then what’s he doing to ordinary citizens?” said Halloran, who identified himself to the agent. “We’ve been told there have been numerous complaints against this guy by civilians over the past few years. But no action has been taken and I want to know why.”
Halloran said his office has received numerous calls from Whitestone residents who said they have been ticketed by Chu.
One constituent said she had been boxed in by the agent as she unloaded groceries into her car, which was running, and he handed her a summons. Another told Halloran the agent had ticketed mourners who were loading a coffin into a vehicle for a funeral procession.
Whitestone’s Kimberly Puccia said she has received two tickets from Chu during the past two years and her husband has been given one summons.
“I was dropping my daughter off at her dance school and he came up and pounded on my hood,” she said. “I told him I was waiting to watch my daughter go in. He gave me a $165 ticket. He’s a horrible man.”
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.