By Jake Offenhartz
June 26, 2019
The former NYPD officer who used a pistol and handcuffs to brutally beat another driver in a fit of road rage last year, then tried to claim he was the victim of mistaken identity, will spend 60 days in jail.
Michael Baror, a 25-year-old ex-transit cop in Brooklyn, was sentenced on Wednesday, three months after a jury found him guilty of second-degree assault, criminal weapons possession, leaving the scene of an incident, reckless driving and improper use of a siren. He was fired by the NYPD in March, following the conviction.
The two-month sentence came over the objections of prosecutors, who argued that Baror deserved at least a year in prison for his "aggressive and violent behavior." The top count carried a maximum sentence of seven years.
According to the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, Baror was driving in Midwood on New Year's Day in 2018 when he rear-ended another driver, 29-year-old James Nacimas. Upon exiting the vehicle, the off-duty cop pulled out his gun and pistol-whipped Nacimas, before striking him in the face with a pair of handcuffs.
"Don't you know who I am?" Baror allegedly shouted. "I'm NYPD!"
He then got back in his Jeep Cherokee, which was illegally equipped with police lights and sirens, and drove away.
Prosecutors said that Nacimas followed the driver, and as his girlfriend phoned the police, Baror "concealed his license plate with an electronic device"—likely a stealth plate. (Off-duty NYPD officers have in the past gone to great lengths to obscure their license plates for the purpose of avoiding speed and toll cameras, which is illegal.)
By this point, both drivers were speeding through red lights, and Nacimas eventually crashed into the Jeep. Baror fled the scene before police arrived. When cops located Baror the next day, he had shaved his head and beard, and removed the lights and sirens from his car, according to the district attorney.
As a result of the attack, Nacimas suffered an injury to his mouth that required 10 stitches, as well as bruising and contusions to his face, head and shoulder.
Baror was arrested the following day, thanks to a dash camera on the victim's car that spotted license plates belonging to his Jeep. Still, when the case went to trial this year, the defendant's lawyer argued that Baror had been mistakenly identified, and noted that the officer's own supervisor said he wasn't sure if it was him in the video. Prosecutors, in turn, pointed to the "blue wall of silence," a well-established code among police officers to not report on a colleague's misconduct.
This may not have been the first time Baror benefitted from the unofficial pact; records obtained by the Post show that an NYPD shrink concluded in 2014 that Baror suffered “anger management" issues, and was prone to "impulsive, reckless and careless" behavior. That assessment was then overturned by his supervisor.
Baror remained employed by the NYPD until his conviction this past March, and took home $69,342, including overtime, in the year following the incident, according to a public database maintained by the Legal Aid Society. A spokesperson for the police department did not immediately respond to Gothamist's inquiries.
"There is no place on the streets of Brooklyn for road rage," Brooklyn D.A. Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. "This defendant’s aggressive and violent behavior escalated to an assault—criminal conduct that was made worse by the fact that he was a police officer at the time. He has now been held accountable."