23.12.19

Airbnb terror ends in jail time for drunk NYPD cop who broke into Nashville home

imageA New York City police officer who broke into a Nashville home next door to his Airbnb and then terrorized a family inside was sentenced to jail time and probation on Friday.

Michael J. Reynolds, 26, who works patrol in Manhattan for NYPD, was charged with assault and aggravated burglary after the July 2018 break-in. In September he pleaded no contest to one count of aggravated criminal trespassing and three counts of assault for his role in the attack.

During a more than two-hour sentencing hearing Friday, four witnesses — the victim, two of her neighbors and Reynolds — took the stand in Davidson County Criminal Court.

It ended with Reynolds getting about two weeks in jail and three years probation.

Conese Halliburton, who said she was home with her four sons — two who were 8 and 11 at the time — recalled Reynolds kicking in the front door of her 12 South-area home and charging in in the middle of the night. Video surveillance taken from a neighbor's RING camera showed Reynolds screaming and threatening the family and using racial slurs.


Halliburton, who dialed 911 right before Reynolds broke in, said she was in her bed when she heard a man outside her home say "Don't go," before he entered her house. The man later said, "Did you make her strip?"

Once he entered the home, Halliburton said, her dogs tried to bite him as he charged toward her.

"He kept coming down the hall. Nothing was holding him back," she said. "He was like, 'This is my mother f---ing house.'"

In surveillance footage with audio shared by Halliburton's neighbor, the man can be heard saying "Try to shoot me, and I'll break every f---ing bone in your f---ing neck."

He can also be heard calling the victims "f---ing n------."

Halliburton said two of her sons stepped in between her and Reynolds and the only reason he left was because she told him police were on their way. The entire incident, she said, lasted just over eight minutes.

The woman said police arrived and she gave a description of her assailant to officers but they could not find him. She told them they should talk to the group of men staying in the Airbnb next door, but when they interviewed Reynolds at the Airbnb that night they did not arrest him.


'We were just drinking'
It wasn't until two Metro police detectives got involved days later that Reynolds, who rented the Airbnb in his name, was identified as the attacker, testimony revealed.

The victim and her neighbors testified when Halliburton confronted Reynolds and his friends the next day outside the Airbnb, they laughed at her and acted as if "it was no big deal."

"He said he was sorry with a smile on his face," Halliburton recalled.

According to neighbor Joetta Alderson, a short man in the group, which testimony revealed is Reynolds' best friend, Thomas Geberth, said: "We are police from New York. You don't need to make a big deal about it. We were just drinking."

On the stand, Reynolds said seven people — three of whom are police officers, including himself — traveled to Nashville that weekend where they planned to spend several days for Geberth's bachelor party.

He said the night of the crime, he had been on Lower Broadway, had too much to drink and blacked out.

The only thing Reynolds said he remembered that night was speaking to a Metro police officer and identifying himself as a NYPD police officer. He testified he learned about what happened from his friends the next morning.

Reynolds said his friends told him he came home from the bar; they thought he went into the Airbnb, but instead he went next door.

Later that day the group went to dinner and when they returned in a van, neighbor Justin Roddick was standing outside watching them.

"What are you looking at?" Roddick said Geberth asked him.

"I think I'm looking at who broke into my neighbor's house last night," Roddick responded.

Reynolds testified that he was sorry, said he was suspended for 30 days from his job, and although he had been decommissioned, said he remained employed by the department on Friday.


Judge: diversion would equal immunity
Reynolds told the judge that if were to be placed on judicial diversion he was told he could eventually return to working his beat.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Ewald argued that Reynolds should go to jail.

Reynolds' attorney, Edward M. Yarbrough, said his client should be placed on judicial diversion for reasons including his remorse and lack of criminal history.

In the end, Judge Mark Fishburn said he questioned how sincere Reynolds' apology was and said he believed that Reynolds thought that, because he was a police officer, he could get away with his crimes.

What happens in Nashville, Fishburn said, does not stay in Nashville.

He called the racial slurs Reynolds hurled at the victims abhorrent and repugnant.

"I'm not sure what might have happened had she (Halliburton) not been on the phone with police," Fishburn said. "The main thing is this not be swept under the rug. The kind of conduct that occurred that night just cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. If I were to grant him judicial diversion I would be granting him immunity."

Fishburn then sentenced Reynolds to 15 days in jail and placed him on three years of probation. Fishburn ordered him to report to the Metro jail within 30 days.

"I'm going to leave the state of affairs of his job up to the city of New York," the judge said at the end of the hearing.

Outside the courtroom after sentencing, Halliburton's brother smiled and shook hands with two detectives who tracked Reynolds down and identified him as the assailant in the case.

"I'm glad he didn't get the favoritism he thought he was going to get," Halliburton said as she stood next to her brother. "He didn't even seem remorseful. Maybe he'll have time to think about it in jail, but I doubt it."

Halliburton is represented by Nashville attorney Daniel Horwitz, who came with her to court.

"We appreciate Judge Fishburn taking this seriously but we're disgusted with every additional day the NYPD keeps him employed as a police officer," Horwitz said.

A civil suit in the case is pending, Horwitz said.

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