A Philadelphia cop has been placed on desk duty while under investigation for illegal tactics used to coerce a pair of drivers into buying tickets to a police fundraiser. Nine-year veteran officer Matthew Zagursky hawked three tickets to a pair of men in an unregistered vehicle, leveraging the purchase of the tickets against the towing of their car.
In the cell phone video, the uniformed patrolman walks over to the driver’s side window and asks: “You and your friend got any money to buy these thrill show tickets? Either you buy these or I take your car. ‘Cause it’s unregistered. Ten bucks each, man.”
Reports Philadelphia’s ABC6 Action News on Aug. 21: “Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Internal Affairs is investigating the incident involving the officer, 32-year-old Matthew Zagursky. In the video, Zagursky is heard asking the driver if he has money to buy tickets to the Police and Fire Hero Thrill Show fundraiser. Money from the show is used to pay college tuition for children of Philadelphia police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty.”
Zagursky is also heard making homophobic remarks to the men. As the suspects are pooling their cash to buy the three tickets Zagursky has fanned out in front of them, the cop asks the men if they have any kids or “sweethearts” to take to the show.
“I’d rather take my girl than this guy,” the driver says. In reply, the sunglasses-wearing Zagursky says, “You don’t look like a couple of fruitcakes.” Later, as they are closing the transaction, Zagursky mocks them for having pink wiper blades – again calling them “fruitcakes” – even though the driver says he purchased them to support his grandmother’s breast cancer.
It appears Zagursky was unaware that the cell phone, sitting in the console between the two men, was recording his unlawful actions. The video, posted to Facebook, has since gone viral.
Support cops like me. Instead of taking your s**t and you two walking. – Philadelphia cop Matthew Zagursky
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said Zagursky doesn’t have any prior record of disciplinary action; still, what the cop did was inexcusable, Ramsey said.
“Anyone with any kind of clear thought at all would know that that’s just not good, it’s not what you do,” Ramsey said, adding that his actions have diminished the charity event. “He’s tarnished that entire event, and the entire cause that it represents, by his actions.”
Philly.com, which carried a transcript of the exchange caught on video, reported that Commissioner Ramsey sent an email to all departments Friday to “ensure that no other officers pressure people to buy tickets to the Oct. 10 fundraiser.”
“We encourage the support of the police and fire Hero Thrill Show,” the communication said. “Remember, however, all ticket sales should be totally voluntary, and under no circumstances should someone feel under duress during a ticket exchange.”
Sound off below: What do you think should happen to this Philadelphia cop?