An NYPD officer has been arrested and detained in India for carrying spare bullets in his checked luggage at the airport as he was returning home from a vacation, police officials said Friday.
Officer Manny Encarnacion was arrested early last month while traveling in New Delhi, where he was visiting his wife. He's been barred from leaving the country until the case is resolved, the officials said.
"I feel horrible for him. The community feels horrible for him," said Clark Pena, a community activist in East Harlem where he says Encarnacion is known and respected.
"Manny does his tour of duty for the day, and he sticks around because he's part of the neighborhood," said Pena.
New York Police Department Deputy Chief Kim Royster said the department was working with the State Department to try to get the charges dropped so Encarnacion could return to the United States.
Rep. Peter King has written a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, blaming the matter on a diplomatic spat that followed the arrest and indictment of an Indian diplomat.
"This excessive act by the Indian government is clearly politically motivated in response to the arrest of India's then-Deputy Consul General in December 2013 for alleged visa fraud," wrote King, referring to the arrest of Devyani Khobragade.
The cop is being prosecuted for violating India's Arms Act of 1959, according to King. A message seeking comment on King's letter was left with the Embassy of India.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said she was aware of the reports of the officer's arrest but declined to comment on the specifics of the case because of privacy concerns.
Asked whether the United States is worried whether Americans are potential targets for retribution because of how the Indian diplomat was treated in New York, she responded, "I think we feel like we've moved past this and hope the Indians have as well. ... India is a very close partner."
Encarnacion, 49, joined the NYPD in 2004 and is assigned to a Harlem precinct.
The officer had gone to the department firing range before he left for India and put the bullets in a coat pocket, according to police. He packed the coat for the trip, forgetting the ammo was there, police officials said.
Encarnacion's next court date in India is April 17, U.S. officials said.
"I hope that the elected officials step up to the plate because let's bring Manny back home. The city needs him, the community needs him," said Pena.
-- Marc Santia contributed to this report.