A police officer who threatened his ex-girlfriend and shattered a glass door at her Queens home should be fired, a department attorney said at a misconduct hearing Wednesday.
Officer Ernie Moran, 37, was arrested July 8, 2020 and charged with stalking the woman after he smashed a heavy flower pot into the door and also broke a neighbor’s window, officials said.
Their relationship had been “rocky,” Moran testified during the hearing at One Police Plaza. He had spotted the woman in a car with another man on June 21, 2020. He approached the car and demanded the man get out, Moran said. Describing himself as “frustrated,” he said he yelled at the man but did not hit him.
Yet in a video of the encounter presented by Kevin Andrade, the department attorney, Moran was seen chasing and punching the man. When confronted with the video, he said: “I’m swinging, pretty much just blocking myself.”
On the night of July 4, 2020, after one of their breakups, Moran said, he went to a bar near the woman’s home in Jackson Heights. Moran testified that he began sending text messages to her that said he was going to bring a knife and gun to her home because he thought a new boyfriend was there.
Moran later made his way to her home, was confronted by her landlord and left. However, Moran said, he was “emotional” after drinking heavily and returned multiple times that night and early the next morning.
He testified that he threw a flower pot weighing “about 50 pounds,” shattering the glass of the front door. Later, mistaking the home of a neighbor for that of his former girlfriend, he broke a window. He then texted the woman to say he would find the man he had seen her with.
“When I see him, I’m gonna kill him,” read one text, which Moran translated from Spanish at the hearing. The words were followed by laughing emojis, which Moran said he had included to convey that he was joking.
Moran said he regrets his actions and that he did not mean the texts to be taken seriously.
“My intention was not to cause harm,” he said. “Just to mess around.”
After his arrest, the NYPD temporarily suspended Moran—an eight-year veteran of the force who was assigned to the Housing Bureau in South Brooklyn—without pay. He now works at the Bronx criminal court, where he said he helps organize case information.
“He is reformed, he is contrite”
In his Queens criminal case, Moran was ordered to pay about $22,000 in restitution to the woman’s landlord and her neighbor for the property damage. Multiple orders of protection against Moran were also issued—covering the former girlfriend, her brother, the landlord and the neighbor.
Another court order prohibits Moran from carrying a gun. Moran was also required to attend counseling to address his anger, domestic-violence issues and alcohol use. Michael Dailey, his attorney, said Moran had completed the programs.
Last December, Moran pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal mischief charges in the July incident. Dailey said he has filed a motion seeking to allow Moran to carry a firearm while on duty. A Queens Supreme Court justice is expected to rule on the request on Nov. 2.
Moran testified that he’s been sober since the incident.
“It’s just me and myself now,” he said. “Since that day I haven’t been going out, I’ve just been focusing on my work.”
Calling, Moran’s actions “a mistake of the heart, not of the mind,” Dailey said “he is reformed, he is contrite and he wishes to go forward with his career as a police officer.”
Moran said being an officer in New York City had been a lifelong dream. The counseling programs have made him better equipped to do his job, he added. Now, he said, he is able to de-escalate situations and knows when to walk away.
If given a second chance, Moran said, he would be committed to staying sober.
NYPD says he must go
In calling for Moran to be fired, Andrade said the officer already had the opportunity to learn similar lessons during his NYPD training.
“The respondent may be on the right path now, and we wish him well,” Andrade said. “But he cannot work as a police officer at this time.”
Rosemarie Maldonado, NYPD deputy commissioner of trials, delayed a decision on the disciplinary case until Nov. 4, to await the outcome of the firearms motion in Queens
As he left police headquarters, Moran was asked how he felt after the hearing.
“I’m kind of nervous,” he said, telling reporters he had been advised not to talk about the case and then quickly walking away.
Michael Matteo, Hannah-Kathryn Valles, Deidre Foley and Joseph Lingad contributed to this story.