NYPD

Guy Who Attacked Female Worker Is a 'Hulking Brute.' Oh Wait, He's a Cop? Nevermind.

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Lolja
MTA

A New York Daily News piece told the story of a man who assaulted a 28-year-old female transit worker at a New York City subway station. The man—a "thug" and a "hulking brute," according to NYDN—grabbed her, hugged her, knocked her on the ground, and began choking her before another MTA employee chased him away.

Then this narrative underwent a curious transformation. In a subsequent story, editors abandoned the frightening descriptors and reframed the tale in the passive voice. No longer had "a hulking brute grabbed a 28-year-old MTA employee." Rather, the MTA employee "was allegedly put into a bear hug."

What changed? Authorities IDed the perp—and discovered he was a cop.

Wonkette's Shrill made note of the differences:

The hilarious coda to this story is the treatment of this story in the news by the New York Daily News. Here's the headline from the story they wrote before they knew that the culprit was a police officer:

Thug attacks female MTA employee at Bronx train station: cops (video)

And here's the lede of that story:

"A hulking brute grabbed a 28-year-old MTA employee up in a bear hug at a Bronx train station, shoved her onto the platform and began choking her in an unprovoked attack – then ran away smiling, authorities said Wednesday."

Here's the story after they found out that the culprit was a police officer:

NYPD cop turns himself in for attacking female MTA employee

 And here's the lede of that story:

"Police Officer Mirjan Lolja, 37, was suspended after the assault in which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker — who was on-duty and in her uniform — was allegedly put into a bear hug, thrown to the floor and choked, cops said."

To be clear: These are two different stories. The first is here and the update is here. And it's fair, of course, to present the accused person's side of the story, as the News does in its second piece. But the stark differences between the two make clear the incredible double standard of reporting on the public's misdeeds vs. reporting on police misdeeds. Many in the media possess an overriding presumption that everything the police do must be justified—even when police actions would be considered horrifying if carried out by anyone not wearing a badge.

This officer, Lolja, has been suspended and is facing an internal investigation. But he isn't facing any charges yet, even though assaulting an MTA officer is a class D felony. One rule for the rulers and another for the ruled, it seems.