In 1997, he spoke out after the brutal beatings of Abner Louima in a Brooklyn station house, but mostly he stays far from his old nemesis. Serpico is working on his own version of the harrowing adventures chronicled by Peter Maas’s biography, which sold more than three million copies (royalties from the book and the movie have helped him live comfortably without working). I’m still living it.’ ” Though he is healthy, he added, “I’m getting close to the line, so I figure I better get busy.”It is, ultimately, a story of healing.The memoir begins with the same awful scene as the film: Serpico shot in the face during a heroin bust on Driggs Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Feb. Working title: “Before I Go.”“It’s the rest of the story,” he said recently over lunch in the self-service cafe of a health-food store here in Harlemville. He wandered in Europe and across North America, he said, because “I wanted to find my life.”“I had gone through a near-death experience,” he explained, “and that gives you an insight into how fleeting life is, and what’s important.” After he settled here, his journey turned inward.
“I hear from police officers all the time; they contact me,” he said.
“An honest cop still can’t find a place to go and complain without fear of recrimination.
Frustrated, he and a friend on the force, David Durk, a graduate of Amherst College who had become an officer in 1963 after quitting law school, contacted a reporter for The New York Times.
The front-page story by David Burnham on April 25, 1970, pressured Mayor John V.
He lived a bohemian life, with a small garden apartment on Perry Street in the West Village, where he was known as Paco and hid his police badge.
The street-savvy but idealistic Officer Serpico was appalled at the cliquishness and the payoffs free meals as well as big, blatant bribes from criminals, gamblers, numbers men and ordinary merchants whom he saw as a beat cop in Brooklyn’s 81st Precinct and later while working vice and racketeering.
“I open a door a little bit and it just explodes in my face.
Or I’m in a jam and I call the police, and guess who shows up?
The movie along with news reports and the best-selling biography of the same name seared the public memory with painful images: of the honest cop bleeding in a squad car rushing to the hospital, where, over months of rehabilitation, he received cards telling him to rot in hell. Serpico took his fluffy sheepdog, Alfie, and boarded a ship to Europe; the film’s closing credits describe him as “now living somewhere in Switzerland.” Which was true at the time. Serpico returned to the United States around 1980 and lived as a nomad, out of a camper.
He finally settled about two hours north of New York City, where he lives a monastic life in a one-room cabin he built in the woods near the Hudson River.
His partners and bosses resented his hippie looks and his zealousness to make arrests even while off-duty or on the turf of other officers.