Decades of Police Impunity = An Ongoing Public Danger

Police car crashed into house.

This article, written by an investigative journalist, is well worth the read. The author details a case of injustice and cover-up by the NYPD. It’s merely an example, one that is not limited to the NYPD but is endemic among virtually all jurisdictions. Departments, unions, the prosecutor’s office, the courts–all have been and continue to be a party to shielding police officers from accountability for their crimes and misconduct for decades. I saw this happen time and time again during my five years with the Phoenix Police Department (1979-1984). In spite of decades of public outrage and cries for reform, little has changed since I worked for the PPD– if anything, the problems that plague law enforcement are worse than ever. No amount of reform or civilian oversight can break through the wall of secrecy and corruption that protects American law enforcement from accountability. Only a complete dismantling of the status quo and a rebuild from the ground up will yield the transparency that has been lacking for far too long.

The incident described in the article, a cop whose reckless driving resulted in an accident, reminds me of a similar incident involving a Phoenix Police officer I knew. The year was 1976–three years before I began working for the PPD–and a young officer by the name of Officer Del Gaudio, Jr. initiated a pursuit of an impaired driver. During the pursuit, Del Gaudio called for backup. One of the units who joined in the pursuit was driven by Officer Ted Music who drove his cruiser into Officer Del Gaudio’s, causing Del Gaudio’s car to crash into the wall of a house. Del Gaudio died as a result of his injuries. Officer Music survived, incurring relatively minor injuries. The Hit and Run officer who investigated the accident was Ofc. Don Klomp, an officer I would meet four years later and subsequently become involved with. Ofc. Klomp’s report faulted Ofc. Music for the accident, citing Music’s extremely reckless driving.

The dead officer’s young wife, five-months pregnant at the time of the accident, sued both the Phoenix Police Department and Officer Ted Music. The Phoenix Police union, PLEA (Phoenix Law Enforcement Association), came to Ofc. Music’s defense and successfully shielded him from both the lawsuit and any form of discipline from his superiors for his culpability in causing the accident that killed a fellow officer. Officer Music was never held accountable in Del Gaudio’s death and was allowed to continue serving as a police officer. However, Music’s service history thereafter was riddled with acts of misconduct:

In one instance, while off duty and in his apartment, a drunken Ofc. Music, naked save for his gun belt, decided to practice his gun-drawing skills. Consequently, he accidentally discharged his service weapon, shooting through a plaster wall that his apartment shared with the neighboring tenant. Fortunately, his neighbor was not hit by Music’s careless gunfire.

In another instance, while on duty and serving as a vice officer in the S.I.B (Special Investigations Bureau), Ofc. Music got so drunk one night he passed out cold in the unmarked car he’d parked behind a convenience store. The detectives’ channel dispatcher tried several times to clear him but, of course, got no response. Panicked over Music’s welfare, the dispatcher notified her radio supervisor who then launched a district-wide manhunt for Music. It was some hours before Music was located and before the district traffic could return to service. The discipline Music received for his drunken binge and the needless manhunt was inconsequential: He was transferred from the S.I.B. to the Communications Bureau where he was ordered to “work the phones” for a few weeks (that’s where I had the great misfortune of meeting him). After his short stint answering Crime Stop calls, he was able to transfer back out into the field as a patrol unit. An officer whose reckless driving had killed another officer, who had a history of alcohol abuse while ON DUTY, was put back into a patrol car and let loose on the streets of Phoenix. Boggles the mind.

Officer Music’s behavioral problems didn’t stop with on-duty drinking binges and naked, off-duty ‘Quick Draw McGraw” role-playing. He was also a prolific emotional rapist. Though married, he concealed his marital status from countless young, single women, mostly PD civilian employees, and pursued them relentlessly, wooing them with compliments, gifts, phone calls, and unsolicited visits to their homes. In today’s vernacular, we call such behavior “stalking”. It wasn’t enough for Ofc. Music to conquer his victims sexually–that wasn’t the objective of his pursuits–his intention, his goal, was to make the woman fall in love with him. Once the woman succumbed, he would dispose of her like a used tampon, then immediately move on to his next victim. On more than one occasion, his extramarital affairs created problems that required police intervention; in one case, a police barricade was needed to talk down a suicidal cop (the boyfriend of one of Music’s conquests). In spite of such degenerate behavior, Music was never disciplined for his infidelity or for the serious fallout his affairs sometimes caused—not so much as an oral or written reprimand. Some of the single civilian women he preyed upon, however, were disciplined for their roles in whatever fallout came from Music’s predatory affairs, even though it was Music who was married; Music who was the cheating spouse; Music who did ALL the pursuing; and Music whose predation was singularly at fault for any fallout that happened.

Officer Ted Music was eventually promoted to the rank of sergeant and later retired on a full pension. The Phoenix PD long ago scrubbed clean Officer Music’s record of on-duty drinking, amorality, and criminal misconduct, including the vehicular manslaughter of Officer Del Gaudio; you’ll find no mention of Music’s name in the public records relating to Del Gaudio’s death. In fact, the Phoenix Police Department’s official memorial for Del Gaudio completely omits any mention of Ofc. Music. It reads as follows:

“Officer Del Gaudio of the Phoenix Police Department was killed while in the pursuit of an impaired and reckless driver. The officer collided with another police car and then careened into the wall of a home. His death was instrumental in persuading the State Legislature to enact the Unlawful Flight statute.

Officer Del Gaudio was survived by his wife who was pregnant with their first child.”

Newspaper archive.
Choke Holds and Other Displays of Affection
Background: Prologue
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