Former New York City Police Department Officer Michael Setiawan, 36, was arrested Sunday on charges of hate crimes in connection with a string of anti-Semitic graffiti in a predominantly Orthodox Brooklyn community.
Setiawan began working for the NYPD back in 2009, but after just 2 years of service, he abruptly quit and went looking for employment elsewhere. It’s unclear exactly how Setiawan has been occupying his time since leaving the NYPD, but investigators believe he’s responsible for a slew of hate-crime graffiti in and around the Brooklyn area.
Investigators working on the hate crime graffiti case were analyzing surveillance footage when they found a connection to the former NYPD officer. The man in the video, whom was on his way to ‘tag’ a nearby vehicle with anti-Semitic graffiti, got out of a car with a clearly identifiable license plate. Investigators searched their database to discover the car was owned to Setiawan, and at that point they knew they had found the perpetrator.
Authorities believe Setiawan was suffering from a mental episode which possibly drove him to commit the hate crimes. During his initial 2-year employment with the NYPD, Setiawan suffered from depression along with other related psychological disorders. Neighbors note that while he was a little off at times, Setiawan was generally a “quiet” and “helpful” person.
After taking Setiawan into custody, investigators began questioning him at the 66 precint. Unfortunately, this didn’t prove to be helpful, as Setiawan reportedly made strange faces and denied the crime, at which point authorities took him in for a mental evaluation.
Police believe Setiawan is responsible for over a dozen hate crime graffiti taggings throughout the Brooklyn area. In total, there were 15 vehicles tagged with anti-Semitic words and an additional 4 buildings. Setiawan is being charged with 19 counts of criminal mischief related to hate crimes, aggravated harassment and criminal mischief. There’s been no word yet on whether Seiawan has sought legal representation.
The graffiti problem was so bad that several students in the area told their parents they were scared of going to school. The increased attention to the area drove investigators to push more time and resources into catching the person responsible for the graffiti. Thanks to the work of investigators, they were able to track down the alleged vandal with the help of a surveillance footage.
“Hate is not a Brooklyn value, and I repudiate any lowlife individual who would spread their prejudiced invective,” said former NYPD officer Eric Adams.