State Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst) is no stranger to turmoil and controversy. The 41-year-old legislator spent 15 years in periodic conflict with city and county institutions before voting with state Sen. Pedro Espada (D-Bronx) and Senate Republicans June 8 to oust the Democrats from majority leadership.
Monserrate became a police officer in 1988. His conflicts with the NYPD are well-documented.
As vice president of the Latino Officers Association, he broke into the media in 1994 when he spoke out against the killing of Officer Anthony Baez by fellow Officer Francis Livoti, breaking the department’s unwritten code of silence about criticizing other members of the force.
While serving in Bayside’s 111th Precinct in 1998, Monserrate filed complaints alleging racial discrimination and alleged he was transferred to a precinct in Harlem after making the claim. In 1999, he became part of a major class-action lawsuit against the department alleging discrimination against Latino officers. The city settled the suit for $26.8 million, and Monserrate left the force soon afterward on a psychological disability.
Monserrate decided to run for Council in 2001, defeating candidate James Lisa, whose family had many connections in the Queens Democratic Party, in the Democratic primaries.
He briefly ran afoul of the NYPD in September 2001, when he was charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Corona after allegedly injuring a tow truck operator as the man attempted to repossess Monserrate’s car, police said. The charges were later dropped.
Monserrate’s conflicts with the Queens Democratic Party continued in 2004, when he backed state Senate staffer Luis Rosero in the Democratic primary against incumbent and longtime Queens Democratic Party operative Sen. John Sabini. The endorsement fueled a rift that would deepen when he unsuccessfully ran against Sabini in 2006.
Monserrate also kindled animosity from Queens District Attorney Richard Brown when he spoke out against the veteran prosecutor in 2005, alleging he misplaced evidence in the murder of an 18-year-old Latino, Manuel Mayi, who was beaten to death by white youths in an Italian area of Corona.
Monserrate was arrested on Dec. 19, 2008 after getting into a fight with his girlfriend over another man’s police union card he found in her purse, according to the DA. He was charged with assault for allegedly slashing her face with a broken glass during the fight. Both Monserrate and Giraldo have said the injury was the result of an accident.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cn
©2009 Community News Group
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