An NYPD inspector tried to cover up his date's drunken crash, prosecutors say

FILE - Members of the New York City Police Department listen to a news conference, Jan. 4, 2017, in New York. Paul Zangrilli, a high-ranking NYPD official lied to fellow law enforcement and tried to get incriminating video footage erased after his girlfriend crashed his police car. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York Police Department inspector has been indicted on charges that he lied to investigators and tried to get incriminating video footage erased after his girlfriend drunkenly crashed his police car into a cab, prosecutors said Thursday.

Deputy Inspector Paul Zangrilli, who led a police precinct in Manhattan, is accused of trying to cover up the 2022 wreck by acts including switching seats with his girlfriend after the wreck and then offering the cab driver money.

Zangrilli pleaded not guilty to all charges. His lawyer, Eric Franz, didn't immediately respond to phone messages from The Associated Press but told some news outlets Zangrilli was a respected inspector who has been waiting two years to “ clear his good name.”

Manhattan prosecutors said Zangrilli was out drinking with his girlfriend on a summer night when he let her drive his unmarked police vehicle. She crashed into a cab, then, with Zangrilli in the passenger seat, sped away from the scene, Manhattan prosecutors said.

Instead of turning his girlfriend in, prosecutors said Zangrilli switched seats with her, then kept driving. When the cab driver caught up with them at a red light and flagged down another police officer, prosecutors said Zangrilli repeatedly offered $500 or $1,000 to the cab driver rather than exchange insurance information.

Then, prosecutors said, Zangrilli called an NYPD captain and told a series of lies: that he had been driving alone and was on his way to work when the crash happened.

Prosecutors allege that he soon signed into work at his own precinct and called the owner of the bar asking him to erase video footage that would capture the couple's three-hour drinking session.

“This alleged behavior was incredibly dangerous, leading to injuries for one cab driver and putting the safety of many other drivers and pedestrians at risk. Furthermore, this NYPD Deputy Inspector, then a Commanding Officer, allegedly went to great lengths to cover up the incident to avoid responsibility,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement. “We will continue to hold public servants accountable when they violate the public trust.”

Zangrilli is charged with various felonies, including tampering with evidence, offering a false instrument for filing and falsifying business records. He's also charged with drinking while driving and misdemeanors related to misconduct and obstruction.

Zangrilli's date was also charged with drunken driving and pleaded not guilty.

In 2023, Zangrilli earned around $200,000 in base pay and other compensation, according to New York City public salary records.

Zangrilli was suspended without pay, the NYPD said in a statement.