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Police: NY Post ‘omitted facts’ about homeless man allegedly menacing Greenwich Village woman

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated Feb. 22, 6 p.m.: Police are slamming a recent New York Post report about a woman who says a homeless man threatened her with a knife on the street — but claims officers later treated the guy with kid gloves.

In the article, Jane Duncan, a lifelong West Village resident, said she was walking when the man — described by the Post as “an unhinged vagrant” — came at her with a blade. To keep him at bay, Duncan, though not sick, says she started coughing, telling him she had COVID and was on her way to see a doctor.

Spotting the man sleeping in a doorway near the Rite Aid on Hudson Street a few days later, Duncan called police. But she said the responding officers, although telling the man — whom they called “Matthew” — to wake up, refused to search him for a weapon.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re not even going to do anything,'” Duncan said she told the cops in exasperation.

In an interview with The Village Sun, Duncan said she was heading home from work and walking west on Bleecker Street on Feb. 3, going past Murray’s Cheese, when Matthew suddenly sprung at her from the curb and asked her, “Why are you harassing me?” She said he then fled toward Sixth Avenue.

“I couldn’t see the knife because it was dark. He didn’t make any verbal threat,” she admitted, though adding, “He could’ve been holding it to my stomach. … I couldn’t see anything but his face.”

Duncan claims she did, though, see Matthew holding a small knife down by his side as he fled. Asked if Matthew was looking back toward her or toward Sixth Avenue her when she saw him with the knife, she said she did not know which way he was looking.

“It wasn’t that big,” she said of the alleged weapon. “I couldn’t see the handle because it was dark. But I could see the blade — a couple of inches. It wasn’t that long. It wasn’t a machete. It wasn’t a kitchen knife.”

The tabloid’s article followed Duncan’s initial post about the incident on Nextdoor, the neighborhood social networking platform.

Police, however, clapped back at the New York Post’s version of events in the Feb. 17 article, tweeting out an especially hard-hitting statement the same day on the @NYPDNews page on X (formerly Twitter).

“This reporter knows that the victim repeatedly told the NYPD that she NEVER actually saw a knife,” the tweet said. “Officers, appropriately, took a harassment report. No probable cause existed for a menacing arrest, and the U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow cops to go through sleeping people’s pockets to look for potential weapons.”

@NYPDNews accused the Post of “omitting facts” that did not “fit their story’s narrative.”

Captain Jason Zeikel, the 6th Precinct’s commanding officer, told The Village Sun that the homeless man in question is known to the precinct.

“This individual’s been arrested before,” he said. “Police have interacted with him due to quality-of-life problems…doing drugs, defecating. He has an active bench warrant. When we run into him again, he’s going to be arrested for his active bench warrant.”

Zeikel did not immediately say what the outstanding warrant was for, but said he believed it was not a very serious offense.

According to a police source, Matthew is “not violent.” He’s known to travel all around the Greenwich Village precinct — recognizable for walking noticeably fast and, in summer, not wearing a shirt. He has family members living in the neighborhood.

Duncan said she walks 10 miles a day — she’s a dog walker who also works in elder care — and would typically see Matthew about three times a day, usually outside the Gourmet Garage market on Hudson Street or by the benches just south of Bleecker Playground. She had never seen him act aggressively before. Since the Post article, however, she has not seen him around.

She said she just wants to see Matthew, who she feels suffers from mental illness, get help.

Duncan said she wants to get the police report on the incident but that police won’t give her a hard copy of it, instead telling her it must be done online. The fee is $1. But Duncan said she feared the online service sounded “scammy” and might steal her credit card information.

She said, after police issued the forceful denial about the Post’s account, on Nextdoor “the whole thread went south” and that she feels she’s now being painted as a liar. She noted that she gets most of her work from Nextdoor.

“Can I take a lie-detector test?” she asked.

Local residents say the area around Washington Square Park continues to be plagued by open hard-drug use. Activist Brian Maloney said he had to pull this stoned man out of the street for the man’s own safety. (Photo by Brian Maloney)

However, Brian Maloney, the head of the West 4th / Mac 6th Block Association, tells a different story than police — one more in line with Duncan’s.

“I read the N.Y.P.D. response [on X],” he said. “It feels a little defensive and didn’t really address the issue that this guy is a known menace, and a danger. He’s very aggressive. I had an encounter with him two days ago. It just really has everyone, so, so frustrated again.”

A year and a half ago, The Village Sun reported how Maloney’s block association had hired security guards armed with guns that summer to deal with heavy open drug use and drug dealing plaguing their block, which connects Washington Square Park and Sixth Avenue.

“He’s usually the guy who runs around without a shirt,” Maloney said, referring to Matthew. “We call him ‘The Runner’ during the summer because he’s, like, just running to find Jesus or something.

“He and [the] other regulars are just erratic, and that gives the real sense of also being dangerous.”

Maloney shared a photo of a different man whom he said was totally zonked out on drugs in the middle of W. Fourth Street, whom he had just gotten to move to safety.

“I had to pull this guy out of the street just now — and when he came to, he was very aggressive,” he said. “This is what we’re experiencing still.”


  1. Jane Duncan Jane Duncan February 21, 2024

    I’m Jane Duncan. The police report says menacing, not harassment

    • Michael M. Michael M. February 25, 2024

      How does Duncan know what the police report actually says? (as if the distinction matters.) As I understand the above, she declined to spring the dollar to see it, for an odd reason go boot.

      So did Duncan tell the police she was threatened with a knife? Or not?

      NYPD unequivocally says no, and yet to the Sun she goes on at length and in nuanced detail. Is that what Duncan told NYPD? If not, why the discrepancy?

      How much effort went into the photos in the NYPost article showing the accused in the background? (This thought occurred to me immediately upon reading the Post article, and before the Sun article came out.)

      The accused is well known to many of us who frequent Hudson Street (WSP my eye). He is intelligent and he is argumentative. I have observed him to be more aggressive toward women than men.

      But using the NYCompost to, er, torture the truth in order to criticize NYPD for what in the protagonist’s view is multiple failures (i.e., initial complaint, and then refusal to wake and search a sleeping homeless person) is undeniably… highly unusual.

      Cops have been accused of planting weapons. Here it is quite possible we have a citizen planting a weapon in a story. I’m not defending “Mathew,” but if I was him, I’d be talking to a lawyer re libel.

      • Meredith Meredith February 29, 2024

        Exactly. Why bring the Washington Square Park area into this article which is far from the site of the alleged crime?

        • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | February 29, 2024

          Well, the individual accused of allegedly pulling a knife sometimes goes there, too, and an activist from that part of the neighborhood had something to add to the story.

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