“We’re absolutely chuffed, but not totally surprised,” HPDSU Captain Finn Zorn said leaving the courtroom on Wednesday afternoon. “As I told reporters and my superiors last month, we believed we were under immediate threat, so I did what had to be done to protect my crew and our vessel.”
During a regular patrol in Jaws VIII, the HPDSU’s Virginia-class submarine, that fateful day, Zorn and his team surfaced to arrest the occupants of a party boat that was bothering area fishermen and “generally being a nuisance” to other boaters. But as they got closer to the craft, Zorn said he observed a glint of metal on deck, which indicated the boat was likely full of weapons. It was then he ordered the nine partiers aboard to boat to immediately abandon ship or be killed in a horrible explosion.
Offered little choice, the offenders complied, but after the HPDSU destroyed their boat, an assessment of the wreckage revealed that what Zorn believed to be weapons was actually a stash of unopened vodka bottles.
A lawsuit and criminal charges were filed shortly after the mixup, but Wednesday’s ruling has absolved the HPDSU of all blame.
“This is an absolute miscarriage of justice,” the boat’s owner, whose name is being kept anonymous, said on Wednesday. “I’m stunned to learn they won’t even be paying for my boat, despite the fact that the Department is paying to run this ridiculous nuclear submarine.”
He has sworn to continue pursuing the case with an appeal, or a “series of lawsuits that will keep these crooked cops in court for the next five years.”
Zorn and his team don’t appear worried. “We’re about to have some celebratory cocktails and take Jaws VIII for a spin—she’s been grounded for nearly a month!” Zorn said while slapping hands with members of his crew. “It’s gonna be a good time beneath the Atlantic tonight.”
The Hamptons Police Submarine Unit was brought into existence in the summer of 2015 after the Hamptons Police Deparment received a decommissioned Virginia Class submarine as part of a federal program to outfit small town police departments in need with surplus military gear and vehicles. Before last month’s incident, the HPDSU had been a resounding success with no complaints filed and only one small accident.