Baimadajie Angwang, an NYPD cop from Williston Park, is on...

Baimadajie Angwang, an NYPD cop from Williston Park, is on trial for refusing to be questioned about dismissed federal charges that he secretly provided information about Tibetans in New York to the Chinese government. Credit: Howard Simmons

An internal affairs lieutenant testified at an NYPD disciplinary hearing on Tuesday that he had prepared 1,700 questions to ask Baimadajie Angwang, an NYPD cop from Long Island whose federal charges were dismissed in January accusing him of acting as an unlawful agent for China.

Now the NYPD wants to fire him for failing to show up in June to be interrogated by internal affairs as ordered in the prior weeks.

“There were many questions that needed to be answered by Officer Angwang," testified the lieutenant, Daniel Cutter, who oversees the NYPD internal affairs group scrutinizing cops accused of federal crimes. Cutter was planning to question Angwang possibly for days.

Angwang, a Marine Corps veteran who is from China and lives in Williston Park, says he suspects he was targeted because of overzealous prosecution and anti-Asian prejudice.

In January, federal prosecutors filed papers asking a judge to dismiss a four-count indictment against Angwang, more than two years after he was arrested at his home, in front of his wife and young daughter, in September 2020. The judge agreed to dismiss the case in a brief hearing.

Angwang, who had spent six months in jail and years in home confinement after being released on bail, had been accused of working as an agent for China starting in 2018 and secretly supplying information on Tibetans who supported independence from Beijing.

In arguing to drop the case, a prosecutor said the decision came after a full assessment of the evidence but did not provide more details; the judge said the "fairly oblique" language in the government's papers suggested classified information may be involved. Angwang is no longer a target of the U.S. Justice Department.

But a case being dismissed doesn’t inoculate an NYPD employee from being investigated by the department, argued in-house NYPD prosecutor Penny Blueford-Garrett. Cutter said the criminal case had been dismissed without prejudice — which in theory means the charges could be refiled — and so the allegations hadn't been definitively adjudicated in court.

The testimony came at the start of the one-day trial at which the prosecutor urged a hearing officer to recommend Angwang’s firing. There are two internal charges against Angwang, 37, for breaking two NYPD rules: failing to obey an order — to show up for the interrogation— and failing to show up for the interrogation itself.

In his own testimony, Angwang said he didn’t show up to the scheduled interrogation — to be held in June, several weeks after being ordered to do so — on the advice of his attorneys.

“My attorney told me that it is an unlawful order and that I don’t have to follow an unlawful order, and so therefore I didn’t participate,” he said at the hearing.

One of those attorneys, Michael L. Bloch, argued Tuesday that the order was unlawful for several reasons, including because, contrary to NYPD regulations, no list of witnesses was provided and the defense had inadequate time to prepare. Bloch said his firm’s request to the NYPD for an extension of several weeks was rebuffed.

And, Bloch said, his client had never disobeyed an order previously.

Bloch cited past NYPD precedent to show that how in the past an officer wasn’t disciplined for failing to obey an unlawful order to show up for interrogation. But Blueford-Garrett countered with cases of her own showing that officers under similar circumstances were fired.

Angwang is suspended with pay, said NYPD spokeswoman Lisa Bland. The hearing officer, Vanessa M. Facio-Lince, did not issue a ruling Tuesday. She’ll send her opinion to the police commissioner, who will ultimately decide how if at all to punish Angwang, Bland said.

The in-house prosecutor said that Angwang was duty bound to obey the lieutenant’s order to show up for interrogation. “The last time I checked, the NYPD is a paramilitary organization,” she said, adding that Angwang, a military veteran, should be accustomed to following orders. “Therefore, he was kinda used to taking orders prior to coming onto this job.”

Angwang also said that union and his own lawyers told him the department probably didn’t have anything incriminating on him and wanted to exploit days of interrogation to go on a fishing expedition and find a better pretextual reason to fire him.

At the hearing, held in a trial room on the fourth floor of NYPD headquarters, almost every one of several dozen seats was filled at the start, mostly with Angwang supporters and reporters from the Asian-language press.

Angwang wore a Marine Corps pin in the button hole of his suit jacket, and another as a tie clip. Two of his former bosses, including the former head of the 111th Precinct in Bayside where he worked for years, testified to his character.

Angwang said he still wants to be reinstated, despite the ordeal he has been through. He’s always wanted to be an NYPD cop, he testified, ever since he came to the U.S. at age 17.

“It’s my American dream come true,” he said.

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