Philadelphia Officer Under Investigation After Shown Threatening To Seize Car Unless Occupants Buy Police Fundraiser Tickets

Screen Shot 2015-08-22 at 2.32.49 PMPhiladelphia police officer Matthew Zagursky, 32, appears to believe there is no better time to close a sale than a traffic stop. Zagursky was selling tickets to the “Police and Fire Hero Thrill Show fundraiser” and decided to make a rather curious pitch: buy these tickets or I take your car.

The nine-year veteran of the police force is seen on a YouTube video (posted by the drivers) asking if the men in the car have the money to buy tickets for a fundraiser to pay college tuition for children of Philadelphia police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty. “You and your friend got any money to buy these thrill show tickets? Support your police department. Ten bucks each, man.” He then drives home the bargain by threatening “Either you buy these, or I take your car because it’s unregistered. Ten bucks each man.”

The men cough up the cash and then one went online to post the video.

Zagursky has been taken off the streets pending investigation.

The question is whether this exchange is evidence of a crime. The officer is suggesting a quid pro quo — looking the other way on a violation if the men buy ticket. However, (with the possible exception of an award for sales), the money is not going to the officer for personal gain. There is also the simply question of abuse of authority.

What do you think should be the punishment in such a case?

37 thoughts on “Philadelphia Officer Under Investigation After Shown Threatening To Seize Car Unless Occupants Buy Police Fundraiser Tickets”

  1. what i find funny is not only did the cop extort both the driver and passenger into buying tickets but he then turned around and called the driver a fruit cake for having pink windshield wipers in support of Breast Cancer obviously internal affairs and his own chief finds his behavior deplorable as he is being investigated. as was said on other sites by the chief he neglected his professional duty and job function by not writing that ticket nor having the car towed.

    Officer Matthew Zagursky is on administrative duty as the Internal Affairs Bureau investigates video of the Thursday incident, police told the Daily News Tuesday.

    As the driver pulled out cash to buy the tickets to avoid being towed, the cop asked if he was going to take “his sweetheart” to the show.

    “I’d rather take my girl than this guy,” the driver said, referring his passenger.

    “You don’t wanna look like two fruitcakes,” Zagursky said as he collected $30 for the two tickets, which should have cost $10 each.

    After the cop pocketed the cash, he asked the driver about his “f—-t ass wipers,” referring to the car’s pink windshield wipers.

    “Breast cancer, man. My grandma went through it,” the driver said.

    “Breast cancer, I can understand. But can’t you support breast cancer in another way? You look like a fruitcake,” Zagursky replied.

    Zagursky is a nine-year veteran of the force, Public Information Officer Tanya Little told The News.

    While police are investigating the footage, Philadelphia Commissioner Charles Ramsey condemned the cop’s behavior.

    “He used the tickets as a lever to not do his duty; that’s extortion,” Ramsey told the Philadelphia newspaper. “No part of that video is good.”

  2. Paul – That’s pretty funny. I did the same here in MD. I forgot to get my emissions tested on my old Focus and so for two years, I drove around with a suspension. Geico kept taking my money and covering me. If I hadn’t had to renew my registration after two years, I wouldn’t’ve ever found out any of this. So, it’s pretty easy, yeah.

  3. This is why Maine makes it (or at least made it, last I knew) illegal for police officers to solicit donations to charities while on the job.

  4. Lay off.
    They’re Heroes! (Most of them at least, who can ask for them all to be saints, amIright?)
    Multiple parades each summer prove it.

    If you’re not supporting the cops you’re a terrorist!

  5. Time to move on and find his life’s true work–which is probably going to be conning old ladies on roof repairs they don’t need….

    If you’re a little bit dirty or a lot, there’s no room for you in blue. Trust is a key component in law enforcement, or should be. How can this man ever be trusted by anyone again?

  6. Stevegroen, you could, effectively have an insured car that isn’t registered. If you registration expires, for instance. Or if you just bought the car that day, you can call your insurance company and get it insured for a few days before it’s registered.

    And to bam bam – in PA, yes, they LOVE towing for violations. Inspection overdue? Tow. Emissions overdue? Tow. They will impound your stuff for anything up there.

    1. Jude – I hate to admit this, but for 5 years I had expired plates but the car was insured. Arizona does not tow expired plate vehicles, but I did have a cop refuse to let me drive the car and I had to wait him out. I sat in the Arizona sun for an hour and he sat in his a/c cruiser. 🙂 Only ticket I got in 5 years.

  7. Chicago cops always shake you down when they pull you over. When I worked in KC cops were told if they pull over someone w/ a Chicago license and they’re offered $20 to make it go away to not charge them w/ bribery, they come from a culture where that’s the way it’s done.

  8. When living in the land of, “It’s Never When We Do”…
    … It’s never criminal extortion when police extort you.

    Assigned to desk duty… No criminal charges? WTF?

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