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NYPD commander indicted for leaving bar with his girlfriend in his issued vehicle, covering it up

Paul Zangrilli

Elizabeth Keogh
New York Daily News

A veteran NYPD precinct commander who was suspended following a 2022 crash with a city cabbie has been indicted on multiple charges connected to covering up a drunken-driving incident, prosecutors said Thursday.

Deputy Inspector Paul Zangrilli, the commanding officer of the 5th Precinct in Chinatown, was hit with a slew of charges including tampering with evidence and falsifying records following the Aug. 16, 2022, crash.

Zangrilli, 44, and his girlfriend, Nikole Rupple, 35, spent about three hours at Midtown Manhattan bar American Whiskey before getting into the inspector’s NYPD-issued vehicle and heading home, prosecutors said.

After Zangrilli downed five shots and Rupple, seven shots and three beers, the 17-year NYPD veteran allowed his girlfriend to drive the car, they added.

As the duo entered the intersection of W. 30th St. and Tenth Ave. — just a few blocks from the bar — Rupple crashed into a TLC cab and fled the scene, only to switch seats with Zangrilli a few blocks away, who kept driving up the avenue, authorities said.

The cabbie caught up with the couple at a red light on W. 33rd St. and flagged down a uniformed officer, who pulled over the NYPD vehicle, according to prosecutors.

The cabbie suffered minor back and neck injuries in the crash and claimed Zangrilli was drunk, but the responding officer sent the inspector on his way, telling the TLC driver to file an accident report at an NYPD precinct.

Zangrilli allegedly offered the cab driver $500 and then $1,000 to avoid an insurance exchange, both in front of the responding officer and after she left.

The cop is accused of personally calling the owner of the bar he was drinking at and asking him to delete the security video of him and Rupple drinking. The footage was erased, but during an investigation the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau was able to recover the footage.

Zangrilli is charged with tampering with physical evidence, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing, obstructing governmental administration, official misconduct and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Rupple faces charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an incident.

“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 became a police officer in 2005 and steadily climbed the ranks until October 2021, when he was promoted to deputy inspector.

He continues to be suspended without pay, according to an NYPD spokesman.

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