The Hip Hop Cop

A little irony of the magazine publishing world: Today is December 8. I am writing about the December 8 New Yorker.

You might think, then, that I was right on time.

However, today is the precise day when the December 8 New Yorker becomes old news -- on the website right now is the table of contents and much new content from the December 15 issue.

Which means the date on my magazine is like the date on my milk: Not the day to buy it, but instead the day to throw it away.

In any case, I'm a little late to this, but last week's New Yorker had an Ian Frazier article about Derrick Parker, a former New York City Police Detective who is still law enforcement's point man in the hip hop community. (Parker has a book, Notorious C.O.P.)

In profiling Parker, Frazier came across some NBA news of note. Mostly little stuff, like Parker works the door, with Frazier in tow, of a party with all kinds of big-name guests including Al Harrington.

But the most interesting thing is about Sebastian Telfair and the shooting of Fabolous. None of this is new, but it's still fascinating. Frazier writes:

On an October night a couple of years ago, two crimes took place on same block of West Twenty-first street in Manhattan. At about midnight, a gold-and-diamond chain reportedly worth fifty thousand dollars was snatched from the neck of Sebastian Telfair, a professional basketball player then with the Boston Celtics. The theft occured outside Justin's, a bar and soul-food restaurant frequented by rap stars. Telfair did not call the police or ask anybody else to; but by some accounts he was seen talking on his cell phone afterward. Then, within the half-hour, somebody shot Fabolous, the rap star, in the thigh as he stood in a parking lot just up the street. On the way to to Bellevue Hospital, the car in which Fabolous was riding was pulled over by the police, who found two handguns in it.

Logic suggested that the shooting and the theft were connected. Two weeks after the crime, the News sought out Derrick Parker (reporters, too, sometimes turn to Derrick to help them understand what's going on), and he explained that Fabolous grew up in Brooklyn's Brevoort projects, home to a number of dangerous thugs who belong to a gang called Commission, or the Street Family. Some of these guys are part of his crew, according to Derrick, and Fabolous even gave the Street Family a shout-out in one of his performances. In the past, this gang has robbed the rappers Busta Rhymes, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Foxy Brown, Derrick told the News. Of the Telfair robbery, he added, "If the Commission members didn't do it, they know who did do it." Telfair, who comes from a project in Coney Island, has had his own run-ins with the law; Derrick speculated that after the Fabolous shooting there might be retaliation against Telfair. In any event, neither the theft nor the shooting was (or is) likely to be solved by the police. Neither victim gave the cops much useful information, and because gun charges against Fabolous were eventually dismissed, even those couldn't be used against him. (Fabolous's attorney says that the Street Family is a group of artists, and his client "is not involved in any illegal activity.")

Several different things to think about there:

  • On an airplane, in his car ... Telfair has gotten in trouble more than once for having a gun where he should not. Maybe he thinks he needs more protection than most. I'm very glad that Telfair has not, apparently, been the target of any violence.

  • Shortly after that shooting nearly two years ago, there was home video from the parking lot outside Justin's. It showed a Bentley -- Telfair is reported to have been driving a Bentley that night -- inching away from the scene while police looked away. There were also reports galore that there was video of the shooting and the theft. Amazing that with all that there were never any convictions.

  • I don't know how you solve it, but in the long run, there needs to be WAY more trust between the victims of these kinds of incidents and the police. It'll be a long process, but it needs to happen. It's a dangerous thing when even someone like an NBA player -- who can afford the finest lawyers, and has media contacts -- sends the message that there is no point in cooperating with the legal system. I also suspect that people like the guy who is profiled in this article could be the key to building those bridges.