Philadelphia 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?