Former cop Jose Almonte says he’s proof family ties go a long way in the NYPD — he beat an assault rap as a rookie and still got fired while the rookie son of a chief kept his job even after pleading guilty in a groping case.
Almonte contacted the Daily News after reading about the case of Officer Joseph Essig, who was busted at Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City in October 2015, accused of pinching a woman’s buttocks.
The incident was caught on video.
Essig plead to a public health violation, then managed to keep his job amid speculation the NYPD cut him a break because his dad is Assistant Chief James Essig.
Sources said Essig’s case highlights the contention by many officers that departmental discipline is often meted out based on rank and connections.
Almonte was in the same casino two years earlier — June 2013 — when, with fellow officers from the 44th Precinct in the Bronx, he got caught in the middle of a fracas at a pool party.
Security officers, he said, were trying to place barriers by a stage when an officer he knows got hit by someone.
Almonte said when he tried to break things up he was assaulted by security and fought back, swinging at three security officers after they hit him.
“It was instantaneous,” he remembered. “I got hit in the face — and I hit back.”
Almonte’s shirt was ripped during the ensuing melee and casino video shows him getting tackled by security officers.
He eventually got a summons for simple assault, a charge that was later dismissed.
“I was the victim,” Almonte said. “I had a busted lip, swollen face, a black eye.”
But Almonte at that point was a cop for less than two years, meaning he was on probation and subject to termination, without a departmental hearing.
Sure enough, he was fired by then-Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
Sources familiar with the incident— and with how the NYPD disciplines its own — said the dismissal was no surprise.
“I beat the case and got fired,” said Almonte, whose father works in private security. “Essig plead and got to keep his job. I guess it’s good to have your father be a chief.”
The native New Yorker tried to reinvent himself in Colorado Springs, but was rejected by both the police and corrections department before joining the state Department of Human Services.
He’s a youth service specialist with the Division of Youth Corrections, working with wayward juveniles.
He’s also married with a baby girl.
“I’m doing pretty good, but I just feel what happened to me wasn’t right. [The NYPD] picks and chooses who it wants to keep.
“It’s who you know.”