An NYPD detective is facing perjury charges after he denied that a suspect made statements to him before being charged. The detective’s sworn testimony fell apart after the defense produced recordings that the defendant secretly made using an mP3-player, like this one, during his time in custody.
By Sean Gardiner
When arrested on Dec. 31, 2005 for shooting a man on Christmas day in Parkchester, the accused teen, Erik Crespo, surreptitiously taped Det. Christopher Perino’s hour and 15-minute interrogation using an MP3 player. However, when the case went to court this past April, Perino, 41, denied when asked by the prosecutor if Crespo had made any statements to the detective prior to being charged in the shooting.
That turned out to be a problem when, the defense witness produced recordings to the contrary.
Under cross-examination by Crespo’s attorney, Mark DeMarco, Perino denied 11 more times that he had any conversations with Crespo after he was in custody.
“I never interrogated your client, sir,” Perino told DeMarco.
After questioning Perino, DeMarco turned over the MP3 recording to the prosecutor prompting the district attorney’s office to drop the most serious charge of attempted murder. Crespo eventually pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a gun.
The detective was indicted on 12 counts of first-degree perjury, each count of which is punishable by up to seven years in jail. Though it’s probable that Perino will never do any prison time, with less than a year to go before retirement, the detective can likely kiss his pension goodbye.
The following is selected portions of a transcript made of the MP3 recording, which strongly supports Crespo’s self-defense contention.
“This case just supports the call that all interrogations or interviews of people in custody to be recorded,” DeMarco said.
(The interview starts)
DET. PERINO: I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED. THERE’S NO MYSTERY YOU UNDERSTAND ME.
ERIK CRESPO: YEAH.
DET PERINO: BELIEVE IT OR NOT I ALREADY KNOW WHAT HAPPENED OKAY. I DIDN’T HEAR ABOUT IT. I SAW IT OKAY. IT WAS DIGITAL. BELIEVE IT OR NOT IT’S ALL ON TAPE OKAY. PERSONALLY, I’M GOING TO TELL YOU RIGHT OFF THE BAT, I THINK YOU HAVE A GREAT SHOT AT BEATING THIS CASE, YOU KNOW WHY?
ERIK CRESPO: BECAUSE YOU SEEN THE DUDE WALK UP BEHIND ME?
DET PERINO: AH AH AH AH AH. LISTEN TO ME OKAY
ERIK CRESPO: YES
DET PERINO: WAIT UNTIL I’M THROUGH. I PERSONALLY THINK YOU HAVE A GOOD SHOT AT BEATING THIS CASE. YOU GOT NO RECORD, OTHER THAN STUPID LITTLE BULLSHIT IT DOESN’T COUNT. YOU ARE NOT THE AGGRESSOR HERE. YOU GOT IT PLAIN AS CAN BE. ONLY PROBLEM THAT WE HAVE IS THAT YOU HAVE A GUN, AND YOU DO USE IT, OK. HE’S NOT THE NICEST GUY IN THE WORLD ANYWAY. COMPARED TO HIM TO YOU, YOU’RE A CHIOR BOY, COMPARED TO HIM. YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I MEAN?
ERIK CRESPO: YEAH
DET PERINO: NOW I GOT A FEW THINGS THAT I’M INTERESTED IN AND OTHER THAN THAT I’M DONE WITH YOU. I PROCESS YA . . . I PUT YOU IN, LET THE JUDGE AND THE COURT FIGURE IT OUT AND BOUNCE YOU THE FUCK OUT.
(Perino tries to coax Crespo into talking using the video surveillance as a threat)
DET PERINO: WELL I’M GOING TO TELL YOU RIGHT NOW. THIS IS THE TIME. IF YOU WANT TO TALK TO ME NOW I WILL TAKE A WRITTEN STATEMENT FROM YOU. I WILL PUT IT DOWN ON PAPER AND BURN THE FUCKING CASE IN A FILE. IF YOU DECIDE THAT YOU DON’T WANT TO TALK TO ME AND YOU WANNA WAIT FOR AN ATTORNEY THAT’S FINE TOO. THEN YOU DON’T TALK TO ME, AND THEN YOUR ATTORNEY IS GONNA TELL YOU NOT TO TALK TO ME AND ONLY HE’S GONNA DO THE TALKING. BUT BY THAT TIME I’LL ALREADY GO TO THE GRAND JURY WITH MY LITTLE FUCKING DISK, PUT THE TAPE IN AND MAKE THEM WATCH IT THEMSELVES. FOLLOW ME? IT HAS NO SOUND TO IT, THEY ARE ONLY GOING TO SEE YOU PULLING OUT A GUN AND FUCKING SHOOTING HIM, YOU UNDERSTAND. THEY’RE NOT GONNA KNOW WHY.
(Later, Crespo gives his story)
ERIK CRESPO: I SEE A MAN WALKING IN. SO THE DUDE OPENED THE DOOR AND LIKE I’M WAITING FOR MY FRIEND TO BUZZ ME UP. HE’S LIKE ARE YOU COMING IN? I’M LIKE YEAH, SO HE’S LIKE WELL OPEN THE DOOR, I ALREADY KNEW RIGHT THERE, AH SHIT THIS DUDE’S TRYING TO START SOMETHING WITH ME. SO I OPEN THE DOOR AND AS I’M WALKING IN I GO, I’M WALKING TO THE ELEVATOR. YOU COULD SEE IT ON THE CAMERA SO I PRESSED IT AND LIKE I SEE HIM WALKING OUT. HE’S COMING BACK INSIDE. SO I SEE HIM LIKE MAKING FACES LOOKING UP AND DOWN GRILLING ME WHAT NOT AND WHATEVER AND I ALREADY KNOW HE’S GONNA START SOMETHING. HE’S LIKE HE’S LIKE “HEY, KID WHO YOU BE?” AND I’M LIKE, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN?” HE’S LIKE, “THIS IS MY HOOD, I WANNA KNOW WHO YOU BE?” I DON’T KNOW WHY HE, I GUESS HE WAS ATTRACTED TO MY JACKET CAUSE IT WAS RED OR SOMETHING, SO HE WAS LIKE “I AM BLOOD” THIS AND THAT. HE PULLED OUT HIS FLAG, HIS BEADS WERE OUT AND I’M LIKE “AH SHIT I’M IN TROUBLE HERE.” HE WAS LIKE, “YO, I WANT SOMETHING FROM YOU, IF NOT YOU CANT LEAVE HERE.” SO, I’M LIKE “WHAT DO YOU WANT?” HE’S LIKE “I WANT ANYTHING.” SO I’M LIKE “CAN YOU BE SPECIFIC?” CAUSE I HAD A LOT OF THINGS WITH ME. I HAD A BAG WITH ME, I HAD CLOTHES IN THERE. YOU KNOW I HAD FRESH GEAR ON. IT WAS CHRISTMAS SO THE GUYS LIKE “OH, GIVE ME SOMETHING. IF NOT, YOU NOT LEAVING HERE.” I’M LIKE “AH COME ON, I’M LIKE WHY YOU DOING THIS MISTER,? IT’S CHRISTMAS THINK. I WAS LIKE, “WHY YOU STARTING SOMETHING ON CHRISTMAS? DON’T YOU HAVE FAMILY TO GO TO? I’M JUST HERE I’M NOT BOTHERING NOBODY. I’M JUST COMING HERE IN PEACE.” SO HE’S LIKE “NA NA NA, THIS IS MY HOOD, OH I’M GANGSTA THIS AND THAT.” AND I’M LIKE “AH COME ON MAN.” SO HE’S LIKE “IF YOU DON’T GIVE ME SOMETHING, SOMETHINGS GONNA HAPPENED TO YOU.” SO I AM LIKE “WHATS GOING TO HAPPENED TO ME?” HE SAID “YOU WANNA FIND OUT?” SO OUT OF HIS POCKET HE HAD A BLADE ON HIM SO I’M LIKE AH SHIT. SO WHEN HE PULLED OUT THE BLADE I GOT SCARED CAUSE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, SOME KID BROKE MY JAW BEFORE, I HAD TWO METAL PLATES ON THE LEFT SIDE AND ONE ON THE RIGHT.
DET PERINO: NOBODY BROKE YOUR JAW. THEY KICKED THE LIVING FUCKING SHIT OUT OF YA.
ERIK CRESPO: THEY HIT ME WITH BRASS KNUCKLES. I’M NOT TRYING TO HEAR THAT AGAIN YOU KNOW? AND I’VE BEEN ROBBED BEFORE AND I HATE TO BE TAKEN AS A SUCKER. SO I PULLED IT OUT AND, HE SAID “WHAT YOU GONNA DO WITH THAT?” I’M LIKE, “I DON’T WANT TO DO NOTHING WITH IT. CAN YOU JUST LEAVE ME ALONE?” AND HE’S LIKE “NOPE.” AND THEN HE PULLED OUT A PHONE AND SAID, “IF YOU DON’T GIVE ME SOMETHING RIGHT NOW, I’M GONNA START CALLING MY PEOPLES AND YOU GONNA HAVE PROBLEMS.” SO AFTER ABOUT FIVE TO TEN MINUTES I’M PLEADING WITH THE GUY, YOU CAN SEE IT ON THE CAMERA. IT LASTED ABOUT FIVE TO TEN MINUTES. I’M LIKE “MISTER, CAN YOU JUST LEAVE?” I’M EVEN CALLING HIM MISTER. HE’S NOT THAT OLD COMPARED TO ME. SO I WAS TALKING TO HIM AND HE WAS LIKE “YOU BETTER GIVE ME SOMETHING RIGHT NOW OR WE GONNA HAVE PROBLEMS.” SO, HE TRIES TO COME IN THE ELEVATOR. SO I PUSHED HIM OUT. THEN AFTER THAT HE GOT TYPE MAD. SO AFTER THAT HE STARTS TO APPROACH ME AGAIN SO I GOT NERVOUS, YOU KNOW.
DET PERINO: I’M LISTENING.
ERIK CRESPO: THAT’S IT.
DET PERINO: NO, NO GO ON. YOU WERE IN GREAT DETAIL TILL THIS POINT. YOU CROSSED THE FUCKING LINE. WE ALL KNOW WHAT YOU WERE GONNA SAY SO JUST SAY IT.
ERIK CRESPO: YOU SEEN IT ON THE CAMERA.
DET PERINO: SO GO ON.
ERIK CRESPO: AND THAT’S IT.
DET PERINO: WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT’S IT? YOU PULLED OUT A GUN, DIDN’T YOU?
ERIK CRESPO: UM HUM.
DET PERINO: DON’T FOLD UP ON ME. TELL ME GO ON, I SAID WE WERE GONNA STAY WITH EACH OTHER, RIGHT?
ERIK CRESPO: WE’RE STAYING WITH EACHOTHER. I’M TELLING YOU STRAIGHT UP.
DET PERINO: WHAT HAPPENED THEN, IN GREAT DETAIL? TELL ME, WHAT HAPPENED? IT’S NO SECRET ERIK.
ERIK CRESPO: I KNOW.
DET PERINO: IT’S NO SECRET.
ERIK CRESPO: HE WENT DOWN.
DET PERINO: WHY DID YOU SHOOT AT HIM?
ERIK CRESPO: I GOT REALLY NERVIOUS, I WAS AFRAID TO GET STABBED AND ROBBED.
DET PERINO. WERE YOU TRYING TO KILL HIM?
ERIK CRESPO: NO.
DET PERINO: WHAT WERE YOU TRYING TO DO?
ERIK CRESPO: GET AWAY FROM THERE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
DET PERINO: I WANT THE GUN ALL RIGHT, I WANT THE GUN. TRUST ME, OKAY, TRUST ME. MAKE IT EASY ON ME. DON’T MAKE IT HARD FOR ME, CAUSE I COULD KEEP YOU HERE ALL FUCKING NIGHT. I CAN KEEP YOU HERE ALL TOMORROW MORNING, I CAN MAKE SURE THAT YOU DON’T SEE THE JUDGE FOR THE NEXT THREE DAYS AND THEN YOU WILL SEE THE JUDGE AND BY THAT TIME I’LL BE IN THE DA’S OFFICE TO REMAND YOU.
ERIK CRESPO: WHAT’S THAT?
DET PERINO: WELL BECAUSE I CAN LEAN ON YOU IF I WANT TO. I DON’T WANT TO. I DON’T WANT TO. YOU DON’T SEEM TO BE A BAD KID. YOU SEEM A LITTLE CONFUSED. MAYBE A LITTLE HOSTILE TO WHAT WENT ON IN THE PAST, BUT YOU’RE NOT A BAD KID. YOU’RE NOT A HARDENED CRIMINAL.
(Trying to get Crespo to make a statement so he can tell “your side of it.”)
DET PERINO: IF YOU DON’T, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE YOUR STATEMENT AND THE FIRST THING YOUR ATTORNEY’S GONNA DO IS WHEN HE WALKS IN THE DOOR IS, “DON’T SAY A WORD, I’LL TAKE CARE OF IT. IS THE ATTORNEY THERE?”
ERIK CRESPO: WHAT ABOUT HIRING AN ATTORNEY?
DET PERINO: INSTEAD?
ERIK CRESPO: MY OWN ATTORNEY?
DET PERINO: IT DON’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE. HE’S AN ATTORNEY. HE NOT GONNA LET YOU GET ON THE STAND AND OPEN YOUR MOUTH. HE’S NOT.
ERIK CRESPO: WHY NOT?
DET PERINO: BECAUSE WHEN YOU GET IN A COURT, IN COURT OF LAW, THEY TWIST THINGS AROUND.
(Crespo asks, “All right, so tell me again if you was in my shoes, right now, would you say the statement, yes or no?”)
DET PERINO: I WOULD, YOU KNOW WHY, BECAUSE IF YOU CAN TELL ME IN YOUR OWN WORDS, OKAY.
ERIK CRESPO: YEAH.
DET PERINO: WHAT YOU FELT AT THAT TIME.
ERIK CRESPO: SO, IF I COULD TELL YOU. WHY CAN’T I TELL THE COURT ROOM?
DET PERINO: BECAUSE IN COURT IT’S DIFFERENT. YOUR ATTORNEY’S GONNA SAY, DON’T OPEN YOUR MOUTH IN COURT. THEY PUT YOU ON THE STAND, THE PROSECUTOR CAN GET UP IN THE COURT AND SHOW DIFFERENT INTENT.
ERIK CRESPO: WHICH IS?
DET PERINO: YOU WEREN’T SCARED. YOU DID IT PURPOSELY. YOU PICKED A FIGHT WITH THE GUY.
ERIK CRESPO: BUT THEY HAVE IT ON CAMERA.
DET PERINO: …YEAH BUT THEY DON’T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT WAS GOING ON.
DET PERINO: YOU LOOKING AT ME TO GIVE YOU A GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD. IT’S NOT HAPPENING.
ERIK CRESPO: NAH, I’M NOT SAYING A JAIL OUT OF FREE CARD. I’M SAYING LIKE, YOU JUST SAID LIKE, YOU SAID FOR ME TO WRITE DOWN A STATEMENT AND I SAID IF I WRITE DOWN A STATEMENT I SAID WOULD YOU BACK ME UP, YOU SAID YES ONLY IF I WRITE THE STATEMENT DOWN.
DET PERINO: YEAH ‘CAUSE YOUR STATEMENT WOULD BE YOUR BACKUP. I’M NOT GONNA CHANGE ANYTHING.
ERIK CRESPO: SO YOU WOULD BACK ME UP ON MY STATEMENT?
DET PERINO: IMMA SAY YEAH.
DET PERINO: IF YOUR ATTORNEY ASKED ME IN THE COURT OF LAW, WHO’S THE AGGRESSOR IN YOUR OPINION DETECTIVE, I WOULD SAY THE GUY THAT GOT SHOT.
(As the interrogation ends, Perino tells Crespo why it’s important he get a written statement from the teen and not just testify about their conversation.)
DET PERINO: NOW EVEN IF I WENT TO A COURT OF LAW…THEY’RE
GONNA FUCKING ACCUSE ME OF TRICKING YOU, THEY’RE GONNA ACCUSE ME OF FUCKING PUTTING WORDS IN YOUR MOUTH. THEY ALWAYS DO THAT TO THE DETECTIVES. I’M THE BIGGEST FUCKING LIAR IN THE WORLD WHEN THEY BRING ME INTO THE COURT.