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NYC Cop Charged for Not Arresting Homeless

July 28, 2004/AP

NEW YORK - The police department put an officer on trial Wednesday for refusing to arrest a homeless man who was sleeping in a parking garage.

Eduardo Delacruz, 39, could be kicked off the force if an administrative judge finds him guilty of failing to obey a lawful order.

The incident occurred in November 2002 shortly after the department adopted a zero-tolerance policy to violations by homeless people.

An attorney for Delacruz, Norman Siegel, accused officials of punishing his client for following his conscience. Delacruz "saw the homeless as people and showed them dignity and respect," Siegel said.

Police lawyer David Green argued that Delacruz's personal beliefs are "completely irrelevant" and the case "begins and ends with the refusal of an order."

The officer told reporters outside court that he hoped to keep his badge.

"I'm a good police officer," he said.

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