Additional reporting by VIDEO PRODUCER and JEFF BASINGER
Hours of video footage obtained by THE CITY offer a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how two NYPD chiefs quickly intervened in the case of a retired cop who was arrested for allegedly menacing three youths with a gun.
Instead of facing charges, the retired officer, Kruythoff Forrester, bantered and shook hands with one of the chiefs at the Brownsville station house before walking out a free man less than three hours after his arrest, the videos show.
The top cop who greeted Forrester warmly was Jeffrey Maddrey, then the chief of community affairs, who has since been promoted to chief of the department, making him the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the NYPD. The other chief who rushed to the station was Scott Henderson, then the executive officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn North.
Forrester denied drawing his gun on the youths. The NYPD said that his arrest was voided after an investigation ordered by Maddrey and Henderson that night, and declined to comment on why the chiefs would order an immediate probe of a misdemeanor arrest.
But an enormous trove of footage obtained by THE CITY through a public records request to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office — consisting of 36 videos culled from police body-worn cameras, and neighborhood and precinct house surveillance cameras — raises questions about Forrester’s quick release. (Two additional videos were obtained by THE CITY from a public school’s security cameras in the area.)
The videos show Forrester’s frantic, seven-minute chase of the then-12, 13 and 14-year-olds across three blocks on Thanksgiving Eve 2021 after the oldest one threw a basketball at a security camera hung outside his family’s real estate office. The videos show the kids, in separate interviews with police, providing accurate and matching descriptions of what Forrester’s gun looks like, as well as which side of his body he drew it from. One video shows Sgt. Karl Hanisch explaining to other officers that those descriptions were persuasive enough to warrant Forrester’s arrest.
They also reveal, for the first time, how after being escorted to the 73rd precinct station house, Forrester requested that Maddrey be called and they record the top cops’ prompt arrival at the station, as well as Forrester’s release less than 90 minutes afterwards. Forrester had served in the 73rd precinct for 15 years, including while Maddrey was its commanding officer from 2006 to 2009.
For all their detail, the videos do not show what Maddrey or Henderson ordered while in the station house, nor Forrester pulling his registered 9mm handgun from its holster.
Maddrey, Henderson and Forrester didn’t respond to requests for comment. When THE CITY broke the story of Forrester’s arrest and release shortly after the incident, a source familiar with the events of that night said it was Maddrey and Henderson who ordered that Forrester’s arrest be voided.
That account was denied at the time by Sgt. Edward Riley, an NYPD spokesperson.
“Two chiefs did not come along and order that this retired officer be released,” he said. “They ordered investigators, whose very job is to uncover misconduct, to look further into the incident and found that the facts relayed by the teenagers were contradicted by the retired officer and could not be verified by the video, ShotSpotter [an audio tracking system] or any other witness,” he added. “Based on that, the arrest was voided and the retired officer was released.”
Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez investigated the arrest and its aftermath and found no criminality, according to spokesperson Oren Yaniv.
But the mothers of the three youths say that the events of that night continue to traumatize their sons. They filed a civil lawsuit against Forrester last November, which described the boys as fearing for their lives that night and still experiencing anxiety and distress.
“I cannot stop the trauma or the fear,” Crystal Merritt, the mom of the two brothers, told THE CITY shortly after the lawsuit was filed.
Police arrested Forrester just before 10 p.m. on Nov. 24, 2021, after his prolonged pursuit of the three kids, which was captured on footage retrieved from building security cameras, and after finding his licensed pistol tucked into a holster worn on his right hip.
Forrester maintained that after exiting the building to pursue the kids around 9 p.m. he pulled the hood of his sweatshirt over his head and tucked both hands firmly into its pockets because of the cold weather. He said multiple times that the kids might have mistaken for a gun his densely packed keychain, which was dangling from his right hand and visible outside his hoodie pocket.
“I came out, I was like, ‘Yo Yo. Why you broke my camera, man?’ And he [one of the boys] looked back, because my hands were like this. I don’t know if he see this,” said Forrester, motioning to the keys dangling from his hand. “He was like, ‘Yo yo, the [N-word] got a gun.’”
Forrester said the kids had a history of messing with him, and had broken the security cameras lining his family’s corner building several times. Cops asked Forrester twice whether the kids might have learned during prior encounters that he carried a gun. Both times, Forrester insisted that wasn’t the case.
As seen in footage from their body-worn cameras, he told responding officers repeatedly that he never removed the gun from its holster. “I never took out my gun. My gun was in my waist the whole time,” Forrester told Sgt. Hanisch at one point.
Referring to one of the youths, Hanisch responded, “But how would he know that you actually had one?”
Forrester seemed to suggest that the kid didn’t know, but had made the charge anyway. “He said that I had a gun,” Forrester responded.
For their part, the kids said Forrester was the one who harassed them when they passed his real estate store nearly daily to play basketball at a nearby school playground.
The videos show that Hanisch’s questioning of the kids focused on two issues: What did the gun look like, and where did Forrester draw it from? (THE CITY is identifying the boys by their nicknames or initials at the request of their families.)
Shortly after arriving at the corner of Saratoga Avenue and Pacific Street at 9:20 p.m., Hanisch pulled aside 14-year-old KJ and his brother, 12-year-old BJ, to ask them what happened, the body-worn camera footage shows.
Almost immediately, he asked them what color the gun was.
“It was black with a little bit of silver,” said KJ, who also expressed uncertainty because it was dark out.
Hanisch then went into the lobby of the building where Forrester was being detained by cops and asked to see Forrester’s gun. One of the officers showed Hanisch a silver gun that was black on top.
Hanisch then went back outside to KJ and asked him again to describe the gun, as his brother listened in.
“It was like black and like silver on it,” KJ answered. “I’ve never seen a gun before.”
In the middle of the pursuit, the boys’ cousin, 13-year-old, K.M., had fled to his home, which was two blocks away from Forrester’s family’s storefront. The teen’s family said he was so scared when he arrived at their door that he could barely speak.
Hanisch and a number of cops walked over to K.M.’s home and questioned him outside without his two cousins present.
“Can you describe the gun?” Hanisch asked him.
“Ya, it’s silver and black on the thing,” said K.M.
Hanisch followed up with the three boys about where they saw Forrester allegedly draw his gun from.
The brothers motioned toward their right sides, while K.M. motioned to about where the right side pocket of a hoodie would be.
On at least one issue, K.M.’s responses differed from those of his cousins: He said Forrester had fired one shot. When Hanisch asked the two brothers about that, one of them said Forrester only pointed the gun, and the other one said he wasn’t sure.
After interviewing K.M., Hanisch told two officers he was planning to arrest Forrester, using the police code for such an action, 10-92.
“It’s going to be a 92,” he said. “They described the gun, they described where he pulled it from.”
Then, apparently referring to Forrester’s version, he went on, “You know the guy says this, but they said silver and black on top, told me he pulled it from his side waist where he has his holster. At this point, it is what it is.”
After a few seconds, Hanisch added, “You know, it’s hard to say someone’s got a gun and describe a gun — and then that guy has a gun and it matches.”
Shortly before 10 p.m., Hanisch informed Forrester that he needed to come to the precinct. Two officers searched Forrester and handcuffed him behind his back.
That’s when Forrester first said he’d try to reach out to Maddrey.
While an officer scanned him with a handheld device at the front desk of the 73rd police precinct house, Forrester asked a community affairs officer nearby if he could reach out to a few NYPD officials for him because his phone had been confiscated.
“Look, tell Jay to call Sgt. Lewis. And also have Sgt. Lewis call Chief Maddrey for me…I cannot call Maddrey because they got my phone,” he said to the officer.
Just over a minute later, Forrester again talked aloud about calling Maddrey.
Someone off screen responded loudly, “The cameras are on recording, officer, alright?”
Forrester responded, “Sorry, sorry, OK.”
At 10:09 pm, after his shoelaces and the string of his hoodie were confiscated and his handcuffs removed, Forrester was locked in a cell.
Minutes later, he got his first visitors — the community affairs officer at the 73 Precinct, followed by two plainclothes officers.
One of the two officers reached his hand into the cell to give Forrester a familiar greeting, while the other gave his cellphone to Forrester to use for a few minutes, silent video footage shows.
At 10:47 p.m. a uniformed officer led Forrester out of the cell, without putting handcuffs back on, and left him in another room of the precinct, the video shows. Forrester had spent 38 minutes inside the cell.
At 11:15 p.m, Maddrey walked through the station house’s front door.
Henderson, who served in Brooklyn North during part of Maddrey’s tenure as the patrol borough’s commander from 2015 to 2020, walked into the precinct house through the back door minutes later. Henderson was promoted this past December from executive officer to Maddrey’s old post of commanding officer of Brooklyn North.
The duo spent about an hour inside the precinct house and, as THE CITY previously reported, it was around this time that Forrester’s arrest was voided.
Past and present police officers interviewed by THE CITY said a station house visit by one, much less two ranking chiefs after an arrest — particularly a misdemeanor — was extremely unusual.
“Normally a chief doesn’t show up at the precinct to void an arrest. I’ve never seen that,” said Michael Alcazar, a 30-year NYPD officer who served as a detective, finished his career as a hostage negotiator, and is now an adjunct professor of criminal justice at CUNY’s John Jay College.
“For the most part — I want to say 99% of the time — once verified by a supervisor, a patrol supervisor, that’s it. You just process the arrest.”
Maddrey and Henderson were seen on video exiting into the station house’s lobby at 12:14 a.m. and chatting for several minutes before the main precinct house door swung open and out came Forrester. He immediately walked over to Maddrey and greeted him with an enthusiastic handshake, the footage shows.
The three men continued talking for several minutes, with Maddrey smiling intermittently.
At one point he wrote something on a piece of paper he handed to Forrester, who shook his hand again before reentering the main room of the station.
Maddrey and Henderson departed the precinct separately around 12:20 a.m., video shows, while Forrester left at 12:40 a.m. for an unmarked police car with two of the officers who visited him in the cell.
Among the questions from THE CITY that NYPD officials declined to respond to were why the chiefs would order an immediate investigation of a misdemeanor arrest, how many witnesses were interviewed and how many security cameras were accessed for video review.
Instead, an unidentified spokesperson, who responded through a generic NYPD public information email address, said that a subsequent Internal Affairs Bureau investigation looking into the incident found no wrongdoing by Maddrey or Henderson.
With the district attorney and internal affairs investigations concluded, only one remains.
Nearly a year-and-a-half after the incident, an investigation by the Civilian Complaint Review Board — which can only make disciplinary recommendations for the police commissioner to consider — is ongoing, a spokesperson said.