Buffalo Police Officer Richard Hy, creator of the Angry Cops social media pages, has been under investigation at least 23 times for internal affairs, including several off-duty violent incidents involving a police adviser.
Richard Hy, a 10-year veteran of the Buffalo Police Department, once said on a popular podcast that he listens to a rap by a local East Side group before hitting the road because "it makes me mad and I hate it."
From the way Hy narrates on the Black Rifle Coffee podcast, it sounds more like the Army veteran is back in the war, but on the streets of Buffalo, not Iraq.
"They're bad people, they're dumb kids, they're drug dealers, they're gunmen, but, man, I just sing that song every time I catch one of them," Hy said on the podcast. “It's called 'Caramba'. As I jump up and down and sing this, I'll arrest him, arrest him, snitch, snitch, dead, dead. Court! Oh my!"
Hy can certainly be funny, said John Evans, president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association. The above comments may not be the best example of his comedic value, but Evans called Hy's social media accounts "entertainment."
Hy is a former comedian before becoming a police officer. His YouTube platform "Angry Cops" has over a million followers and over 100 million views. Some websites estimate his net worth for his social media platforms at $750,000.
Hy is also a controversial figure.
According to police records, Hy was a "prolific" ticket writer who had previously been in the news for his social media sketches. The side job also twice put him in the crosshairs of his military superiors, but much more often with police officers.
And now Hy has claimed that his First Amendment rights are being violated by the Buffalo Police Department, which says it turned him down for a promotion. Hy has filed a lawsuit in the city showing that he intends to sue.
In October 2021, Hy's attorney, Adam Grogan, said in a press release that Hy was the victim of "apparent mistreatment" by the Buffalo Police Department and that the officer had a First Amendment right to publish his comedy skits on social media. Being passed over for promotion took a toll on Hy's mental health, Grogan said.
“He signed up for various promotions over the years, but each time it seems like the Buffalo Police Department tries hard to ignore him,” Grogan said. "And the lowest common denominator here seems to be his social media activity."
But is this really the truth?
“Unusual” Disciplinary Records
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, News 4 Investigates obtained Hy's entire disciplinary file, hundreds of pages of documents that paint a different picture than the one Hy's attorney described last year.
The Buffalo Police Department's Internal Affairs Division has examined Hy on at least 23 occasions, a total that was described as "rare" by a former Los Angeles Police Department deputy chief, who consults with law enforcement about Internal Affairs operations. The reasons range from his activity on social networks, reports of use of force and violent behavior off duty, according to his disciplinary files.
"Most police officers go through their entire career and have maybe one, two, a handful of them, but certainly not 23," said Lou Reiter, who has 60 years of law enforcement experience. "Sounds like that would put him on every agency's repeat offender list, not to mention Buffalo."
For example, while off duty in West Seneca in 2016, Hy uttered racial slurs, hit someone in the head, took their marijuana and, according to police records, was drunk.
In another incident in October 2014, the Buffalo Police Department received a tip alleging that Hy may have been intoxicated when he crashed his truck that morning near D'Youville College.
Another incident in September 2020 involved Hy, who was off duty in military uniform, punching an African-American man and sitting on his chest until uniformed officers arrived.
For PBA president Evans, Hy is an "extraordinary officer" who deserves a promotion.
"I don't see in his work history that he hasn't been promoted," Evans said.
On the other hand, some of Hy's behaviors raise red flags for others.
In fact, reviewing parts of Hy's disciplinary record, Reiter concluded: "In my opinion, he's not ready for a promotion."
News 4 Investigates originally had an interview with Hy's lawyer, but Grogan canceled it.
Hy, 34, never responded to questions from News 4 Investigates. And the Buffalo Police Department has a policy of not commenting on legal matters.
Hy's career in law enforcement
The Army Reservist and Drill Sergeant joined the Buffalo Police Department in 2012 and patrolled South Buffalo's A District.
A year later, he moved to District C, which includes predominantly African-American neighborhoods like MLK Park, Genesee-Mosel, and Schiller Park.
Police records indicate that, by this time, Hy had established a reputation as a "prolific" copywriter.
In October 2014, Hy joined the Strike Force, a controversial task force focused on guns, gangs, and drugs.
The police department disbanded the unit in March 2018, shortly after a study by the University at Buffalo and Cornell law schools accused the unit of, among other things, conducting illegal searches and discriminatory checks.
Hy then moved to District E, another part of the city with a large minority population that includes Kenfield, a predominantly African-American neighborhood.
From there, he was transferred to the Housing Unit, another controversial task force that patrolled the properties of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.
While Hy was in the Strike Force unit, he already had two charges of use of force on his disciplinary record, both of which were deemed "not maintained" by Internal Affairs, meaning there was insufficient evidence to establish that Hy was found guilty of crime.
It also had its first off-duty incident that year.
Tip leads to internal investigation
Hy's first off-duty incident leading to an Internal Affairs investigation occurred around 4:40 AM. m. on Oct. 26, 2014, when Hy crashed his vehicle into D'Youville College.
An anonymous tip stated that Hy was "intoxicated" while "involved in an off-duty accident and that officers failed to take appropriate action during the investigation of the incident."
According to police records, Hy was driving a silver Chevy Trailblazer and fell between two concrete pillars in front of the College Center building.
D'Youville campus security and Buffalo police found Hy "bleeding profusely" in his truck, leaning over the passenger seat and resting his head on the passenger-side window. Within five minutes, seven Buffalo Police Department vehicles arrived on the scene. Dispatch records indicate some first responders knew it was Hy's vehicle.
The police incident report states that Hy said he was heading west on Porter and approaching Fargo when "an unidentified vehicle pushed him off the road and struck a cone at 329 Porter."
But what the former D'Youville College security director wrote in an email dated Oct. 28, 2014, paints a slightly different picture of Hy's version of events.
"I burned the footage of the accident," the university security officer wrote. “Including a nice photo of the vehicle going through the intersection. From what I can tell, it appears that he entered the wrong lane and swerved at high speed to avoid an oncoming car."
Throughout the incident log, there is no indication that Hy was tested for alcohol or drugs.
But handwritten notes by a Buffalo police lieutenant say Hy "spoke clearly" and detected no alcohol odor.
Internal Affairs deemed the complaint "baseless" and Hy had a meeting with one of his superiors, which the police union said was not a form of punishment.
As of 2015, Hy had four use-of-force complaints on his record. Internal Affairs deemed them "untenable" or "unfounded."
That same year, he was first investigated by Internal Affairs for posts he made on social media on Vine, a platform that no longer exists. A video showed Hy in a service uniform pretending to be chasing a man.
In a second video, Hy and another Buffalo officer "were involved in a video game where they shoot at a TV monitor, suggesting it's a 'practice day.'"
Overall, the Department of Internal Affairs found 10 videos that allegedly violated department policies.
This was the first time Internal Affairs had received a reprimand in March 2015, which is the lowest form of punishment.
But activity on social media hasn't stopped and neither has the internal investigation.
More social media issues and the West Seneca incident
In 2016 and 2017, Hy was investigated by Internal Affairs at least three more times for social media posts, resulting in continued charges of serving time or settling by arbitration.
One such post was on September 16, 2017, when Hy posted a video on her Angry Cops Facebook page of a woman outside the municipal courthouse who Hy claimed was using heroin. She made comments about her private life, according to the report.
Hy says in a transcript of his disciplinary file that he did not understand why he was being questioned about the video. Hy said he was on his way to court when he noticed the woman "falling asleep" and a court official asked if he could help her. Hy said he recorded his interaction with the woman "for my safety."
He said he asked her if she needed an ambulance, to which she replied "no."
"And then the video cuts to there and at the end I explain that she's addicted to heroin, that she said she abuses methadone, that she's in the video, and that she said that ... she lost custody of the children," Hy said.
Hy said she believes the video shows "the dangers of heroin abuse" and that "I'm going to do a public service announcement about not using heroin."
But Hy never asked the woman for permission to post the video on a public platform, where people identified her in the comments section, according to police documents.
Internal Affairs also reigned in Hy for violating departmental guidelines by giving interviews to some news outlets about his social media activities. Hy said in another transcript that the reason he started the "Angry Cops" social networking sites was to humanize police officers. He said that he never thought that he would get in trouble for making the videos.
And then there's the West Seneca incident, where Hy's off-duty violent behavior once again led to another internal investigation that took nearly two years to resolve.
His disciplinary records say that at 1:43 a.m. m. on September 13, 2016, Hy and an off-duty West Seneca police officer entered a vehicle on Collins Avenue to observe children filming a rap video on the street. The incident turned violent when Hy headbutted one of them in the face for refusing to give the cell phone password.
According to West Seneca police reports, responding to a call of a possible altercation, officers identified Hy, who had taken a bag of marijuana from the victim.
“Hy showed me a small clear plastic bag that contained what appeared to be a small amount of marijuana,” the West Seneca incident report states. "As Hy was talking, I could smell alcohol on his breath, he was slurring his words and his eyes were red and glassy."
An internal report from the West Seneca Police Department added that Hy "appeared to be drunk" and said "kids were out on the street acting like idiots."
“Hy proceeded to berate the boys and told them that [they] were police officers and did not want their buffalo killed in western Seneca,” the police report says.
The report states that Hy also chased the victim and "put him in a headlock, which was choking him."
“Hy threatened the subjects that he would make the boys jump on them and fuck them. Also that they would end up in jail and that the police would not do anything because they were police officers,” the report says.
The police report also noted that "Richard Hy returned to his truck and left the area, although he was directed to remain there until he had an opportunity to speak to all parties."
Hy was charged with criminal obstruction of breathing, third degree assault and second degree sexual assault.
The case was settled with Hy claiming disorderly conduct and did 50 hours of community service.
As for the Internal Affairs investigation, the West Seneca incident was combined with another complaint through his social media posts and resolved with him pleading guilty to violating department policies with jail time.
Fight out of order in 2020
On September 3, 2020, Hy was off duty in a military uniform when he got into a fight with a black man on a skateboard. The incident was recorded by bystanders and posted on social media, but has since been deleted.
The video shows a man with a skateboard approaching Hy, who then punches him in the face, knocking him to the ground. Hy throws him to the ground before landing on the man's chest.
Hy told Internal Affairs investigators that he was driving west on West Utica on Elmwood Avenue when he saw a man on the street with a skateboard yelling at cars and blocking vehicles from passing through the intersection. Hy said the man verbally abused him and when she was in a store she noticed the man spit on his parked truck. Hy said he ran out and asked the man what he did with his truck.
Hy claimed that the man threw the skateboard at her, so she defended herself.
Several witnesses testified that the man had verbally abused or made derogatory comments towards Hy and that he appeared to have mental health problems.
A year later, Internal Affairs exonerated Hy.
Reiter, the police consultant, said Hy's West Seneca incident and that fight with the skateboard man "would classify me as a no-nonsense administrator who has worked in internal affairs for 60 years and has been a department trainer for 40 years." . of the employees".
"I would be concerned about dealing with anger," Reiter said. “The hasty actions that got him into a fight, and in those two cases too… he aimed for the head; one was a headbutt and the other a punch to the face. I mean, this is significant. We don't train officers to aim for the head."
Reiter also said there is no indication in Hy's disciplinary file that he received employee assistance programs or had the psychological fitness for service assessments, which he would have recommended. The Buffalo Police Department declined to discuss Hy's background.
"I mean, I think I would at least expect someone [from the BPD] to try to get redress for him, but certainly with the timeliness of these two cases, there's no way I'm going to promote him to supervisor because he has to embody the qualities that we expect. of him. a police officer," Reiter said.
Evans, the PBA president, disagreed.
And while Evans said he thinks Hy could be passed over for promotion by police for a combination of reasons and not just his social media antics, "our position is that he should be promoted."