On this day, Feb. 3, in 1971, New York City policeman Frank Serpico was shot during a routine heroin bust, which led to the exposure of widespread corruption in the police department.
Before the shooting, Serpico had reported rampant corruption within the ranks, but his superiors did nothing. He tipped off a friend at the New York Times, which led to an expose that forced the mayor to investigate the allegations.
Serpico was shot in the face under suspicious circumstances. His fellow officers failed to call for help, but he was saved by an elderly man who called emergency officials.
Serpico later testified before the mayor's commission, helping to change the corrupt culture of the department.
- Scott McCabe