By Connor Adams Sheets
A city traffic agent who was disciplined by the NYPD after improperly ticketing City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) is suing the lawmaker, his former chief of staff Dennis Ring and the city for $6 million, alleging that the politician and Ring racially slandered him.
Chu, who also wants to be reinstated as a Queens North traffic patrol agent, contends in the suit filed Monday in Queens Supreme Court that Halloran made a series of discriminatory statements after Chu ticketed his car June 14 along 150th Street in Whitestone.
“You need to go back to the police academy,” the suit says Halloran told Chu at the time. “Go ahead, give me a f—ing ticket …. When you lose your job, you can go back to your old job delivering Chinese food. What is that, $5 or $4 per hour?”
Chu claims in the suit that the verbal assault left him with physical damage including “suffering Bell’s palsy.”
Halloran denies the allegations by Chu.
“New Yorkers should consider the source. Agent Chu has a documented history of being a renegade agent and abusing his authority — so much so that he was disciplined by the NYPD and forced to take sensitivity classes,” Halloran spokesman Steve Stites said in an e-mail Tuesday. “So we shouldn’t be surprised that Agent Chu is now suing the taxpayers he once harassed.”
City Law Department spokeswoman Connie Pankratz declined to comment on the case. Ring could not be reached for comment. Chu’s attorney, Michael Berkley, did not return a call requesting comment.
A Queens traffic court judge dismissed the ticket Chu gave Halloran after the councilman spotted Chu driving recklessly and running stop signs along 150th Street, Halloran said last year. An administrative judge told Halloran he did not have to pay the ticket after reviewing evidence from the scene of the incident.
It was ruled that the councilman’s vehicle was idling, not parked, and that his license plates prohibit him from getting parking tickets while on Council duty.
The NYPD punished Chu by cutting his vacation time, taking away his NYPD vehicle, forcing him to undergo sensitivity training and relocating him to a different section of Queens.
In the suit, Chu also alleges that Ring made racist remarks to him when Chu ticketed him June 5, 2010.
“You are lucky to be wearing a uniform,” the suit contends Ring said. “You should f—ing go back to China.”
Halloran said the incident set off a flood of phone calls last summer from northeast Queens residents who said they had been ticketed by Chu. One told him the agent had ticketed mourners who were loading a coffin into a vehicle for a funeral, while another said she was given a summons while loading groceries into her running car.
On June 14, 2010, the councilman and his then-chief of staff Ring were driving along 150th Street when they spotted Chu talking on his cell phone while speeding down the street with his siren on. The agent drove recklessly and then parked illegally in front of a crosswalk on Clintonville Street while he went into a Dunkin’ Donuts store and bought coffee.
Halloran followed the agent in his car and approached him as he left the coffee shop. The councilman was then handed a $155 ticket for blocking the pedestrian ramp. The traffic judge sided with his argument that his car was idling and that Chu’s vehicle was blocking the sidewalk. Halloran recorded Chu’s actions with his iPhone.
During an internal NYPD review, Chu admitted he was speeding and talking on his cell phone at the time of the incident with Halloran, the councilman said. He also said he had parked illegally in front of Dunkin’ Donuts.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.