Cop Suspended After Harlem Suspect Slips Out Of Squad Car

A shoplifting suspect who slipped out of an NYPD squad car Saturday is back in cuffs, and one of the cops who bungled his arrest has been suspended, police said.

Cops on Monday tracked Xavier Rivers, 21, to the Taft Houses on Fifth Ave. and E. 112th St. in East Harlem, where he lives, sources said, and was taken into custody. No charges had been filed.

Police Officer Henry Vidal, a 14-year veteran assigned to the 23rd Precinct as a Neighborhood Coordination Officer has been suspended after the suspected thief’s escape, and his partner, Officer Kerri-Ann Smith, was not disciplined, sources said.

The officers initially captured Rivers on E. 102nd St. near Madison Ave. at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, after the manager at a nearby Duane Reade called one of the cops and said she had just spotted a known shoplifter enter the store.

The manager didn’t see Rivers taking anything on Saturday, but he’d been spotted stealing in the past. So, the cops searched the area, cuffed him, and placed him in a police cruiser, according to sources.

The alleged thief opened the cruiser’s door and bolted, outrunning the two cops, sources said.

Police searched nearby Central Park for Rivers, who was dressed all in green and still wearing the cuffs when he ran off.

He is the first person to escape the NYPD custody this year. Neighborhood coordination officers are assigned to patrol small sectors in their precinct, interact with community members and learn their concerns.

The 23rd Precinct introduced Vidal and Smith as NCOs in a Facebook post in August in 2016.

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"The Clark Legacy Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark and their work," this post is made in partnership with Harlem Cultural Archives, get more at Harlem History.

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