NYC Cops Claim Their Duty Is To Serve And Protect – Only When They Feel Like It (VIDEO)

Joseph Lozito on ABC News

Joseph Lozito on ABC News

Two years ago, a New York City man named Joseph Lozito brought down a spree killer, Maksim Gelman, with his bare hands as police watched and did nothing. Lozito recalled the story to ABC:

“When I boarded the train at Penn Station, a good amount of people boarded and I noticed there were two police officers boarding with me. You could hear on their walkie talkies that something was going on…they were there for a reason,” Lozito said.

Subway riders had spotted Gelman jumping off one train and onto another early Saturday morning.

When he boarded Lozito’s subway car, he pounded on the conductor’s door, demanding to be let in.

Here’s the video:

Lozito then said Gelman attacked him with a knife, causing numerous injuries. Lozito, at 6’2″ and a muscular 260 lbs., subdued his attacker with martial arts moves he claimed he learned by watching mixed martial arts on TV.

During the 60 seconds of struggle, the police, there to “serve and protect,” hid inside the conductor’s cab, thinking Gelman might have had a gun.


Neither police nor Lozito had any idea at the time just how menacing Gelman, who was threatening Lozito’s life, was. In just 28 hours, Gelman killed four people, stole four cars (two of which he hijacked) and injured five people. In January of this year, he was sentenced to 200 years in prison.

In another NYC courtroom, justice doesn’t seem to be as simple. Lozito is suing the city, claiming that the two police officers, Terrance Howell and Tamara Taylor, were negligent in the incident and that they should have done more to protect Lozito, who obtained serious injuries during the attack. The City of New York is claiming that the police were under no legal obligation to protect Lozito.

From the New York Post:

An angry Lozito decided to sue the city for negligence, arguing the cops should have recognized Gelman and prevented, or reacted more quickly to, the assault.

The city routinely settles such litigation but is playing hardball with Lozito, insisting his demand for unspecified money damages be tossed because the police had no “special duty” to protect him or any individual on the train that day.

“Under well-established law, the police are not liable for such incidents,” said city lawyer David Santoro. “That doesn’t detract from the Police Department’s public safety mission — or the fact that New York is the safest big city in America.”

Experts say it’s a long-standing legal precedent requiring police to put the public safety of all ahead of any one individual’s rights.

Gun enthusiasts, not surprisingly, are citing this case as an example of why citizens need to be armed and that the police can’t be relied upon to protect individuals. While on the surface, those arguments might have some merit, the argument regarding fire power quickly falls apart when you examine the facts of the case.

The first, and most obvious, argument is that Lozito, while an undisputed hero, was not armed. His only weapon was his considerable brute force. Gelman, who was a crazed killer, was armed only with a knife. If either man had been wielding a gun, the outcome might have been very different.

As anyone who’s ever ridden in a subway car can attest, even in an empty car you are just a thin wall away from the next, presumably full, car. A hail of even properly aimed bullets can, at close range, cut right through the victim and travel into the next car, risking the lives of innocents.

That is when shooters are accurate. Unfortunately, accuracy is relatively uncommon. According to New York police records, the NYPD is accurate 34% of the time. The LAPD’s accuracy rate is about 40%. In real life situations, where shooters are stressed, and bodies, unlike stable targets, move in unpredictable ways, 100% accuracy is an impossible goal, even for the best trained marksman.

Without knowing more details of the case, it’s difficult to defend the police for their refusal to protect Lozito, but if they had started firing, it’s likely that the result would have been much more devastating.

As for their argument that it is more important for the police to maintain the safety of the public vs. the safety of an individual – well…it is.


Screen-Shot-2012-12-27-at-6.14.13-PM Wendy Gittleson grew up in a political family. Her passion is for social justice and fairness. She is the Senior Editor for Addicting Info. She lives in a union household. In her rare downtime, you’ll find her hiking or exploring the shoreline with her dogs. Follow her on her Facebook page or on Twitter, @wendygittleson