NYC mayor: 'Put aside protests' after officer deaths – USA TODAY

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday while speaking to police during a luncheon that now is the time to be with the families of the slain officers, not the time to protest. VPC

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio sought to cool the heated controversy swirling around the fatal shootings of two police officers, calling Monday for New Yorkers to “put aside protests” and focus on the families of the fallen patrolmen.

“These families are now our family and we will stand by them,” de Blasio said at a fundraising luncheon for the Police Athletic League. “They are suffering unbelievable pain right now.”

He reinforced the message later in a news conference with top police officials after visiting the families of the two officers slain by gunfire as they sat in their patrol car Saturday.

“This is a time for every New Yorker to think about these families,” de Blasio said. “Put aside protests, put aside demonstrations until these funerals are past. Let’s focus just on these families and what they have lost.’

Tensions between de Blasio and his 35,000-member police force have grown stronger since Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, fatally shot officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, as they sat in their patrol car Saturday. Brinsley, pursued by other officers, turned the gun on himself moments later.

As the mayor made his plea, funeral arrangements were underway for the slain officers. A viewing is scheduled for Ramos at Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens, N.Y., for Friday afternoon and evening and a funeral at the same church scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, according to NYPD. Arrangements for Wenjian Liu were still being made as relatives travel from China.

The widow of one of the NY police officers shot dead at the weekend issues a tearful statement to waiting media. Paul Chapman reports Video provided by Reuters Newslook

Video Transcript

Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
00:00 We do have one of the New York police officers
00:02 killed the weekend emerges to deliver a tearful statement. This election
00:07 announcement when gender marriage less than three months before. We would
00:11 also like six us open. The office. And bronze then this
00:18 is the biblical times form. Football all of feminists. But give
00:25 us then together and get through this together. The two officers
00:31 were shot as they sat in the squad can’t a man
00:34 accused that the attack afterwards killed himself.

In Washington, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the slayings “an unspeakable act of barbarism.”

“This cowardly attack underscores the dangers that are routinely faced by those who protect and serve their fellow citizens,” Holder said. “As a nation we must not forget this as we discuss the events of the recent past. These courageous men and women routinely incur tremendous personal risks, and place their lives on the line each and every day, in order to preserve public safety. We are forever in their debt.”

At a news conference with the mayor, Robert Boyce, chief of detectives for New York police in Manhattan, said investigators had found more than a thousand images on the shooter’s cell phone, including a short video that he apparently shot as a spectator to protests against police in New York on Dec. 1.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said investigators believe the shooter acted alone and was “a sole operator,” but are still trying to piece together how Brinsley spent his final two hours in New York City before the attack. Anyone who may have seen him or has information was asked to contact police. De Blasio called the shooter “a deeply troubled career criminal.”

Before his rampage, Brinsley purportedly posted a comment on an Instagram account saying he planned to kill police officers as revenge for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown — unarmed black men killed by white officers in recent months.

Some officers believe de Blasio failed to properly support police after a Staten Island grand jury this month declined to indict an officer in the chokehold death of Garner. When de Blasio went to the hospital in the hours after Ramos and Liu were shot, officers who gathered there turned their backs on the mayor.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Monday afternoon that despite rumors of tension between him and the NYPD, his support has never wavered. VPC

Video Transcript

Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
00:02 I will keep reaching out to everyone who serves this
00:05 city. They don’t have to do all agree with me at
00:10 my remind you of 35000. People almost in uniform and MYPD.
00:14 I think they are like every other part of our society.
00:17 Group of people a lot of different viewpoints. Lot different backgrounds
00:21 said repeatedly many many journalists have said. Do you think police
00:25 officers think and I always stop them and say. There’s 35000.
00:29 Individuals they all have their own views like every other individual
00:33 or society. So the way I would frame it is I
00:37 think some people. Feel one way others see on the other
00:39 way but to me. That’s not what I need to pay
00:43 attention to I need to support them regardless of what they
00:45 feel. And I have. Commission I’ll tell you about almost 400
00:50 million dollars in additional investment we’ve put into the safety of
00:53 our officers beyond that which was in the budget in June.
00:57 The almost 400 million dollars we have had a sense. To
01:01 protect our officers. Actions speak are in the works. So I
01:05 will continue to support them they have a right to their
01:08 opinion 100% I’ll continue to support them.

Bratton said representatives from the five police unions had agreed to stand down and not issue further criticisms of the mayor until after the funerals. Bratton downplayed tensions between officers and de Blasio.

“Can you point out to me one mayor who has not been battling with police unions in the last 50 years? Name one,” he said., speaking with reporters at a news conference. “The experience of this mayor of some cops not liking him, it’s nothing new.”

Earlier, Patrick Lynch, president of the officers’ union, said there was “blood on the hands” of de Blasio.

“I think it’s important that regardless of people’s viewpoints that everyone realizes it’s time to step back and focus on these families,” de Blasio said. “It’s time to pause political debates, to put aside protests.”

The families are eligible for federal death benefits of more than $300,000 each. Attorney General Eric Holder has directed program officials to reach out to the officers’ survivors to assist in submitting their claims.

Earlier, Bratton rejected claims that de Blasio has failed to sufficiently support his officers and thus increased the dangers officers face on the street.

“I don’t believe that at all,” Bratton told NBC’s Today, adding that the department in 2014 received “over $400 million outside of my normal budget to improve our training, to improve our facilities, to acquire technology.”

Bratton said he did not believe the hospital protest was appropriate. “But it’s reflective of the anger of some of them,” Bratton said.

A union message called on NYPD officers to respond to every radio call with two cars — “no matter what the opinion of the patrol supervisor” — and not make arrests “unless absolutely necessary.” The president of the detectives’ union told members in a letter to work in threes when out on the street, wear bulletproof vests and keep aware of their surroundings.

Adding to the tension, police were searching for a reputed Brooklyn gang member who posted online a photo of a man opening fire into a marked police cruiser, local media including the New York Post reported.

Devon Coley, 18, wrote “73Nextt” – an apparent reference to the city’s 73rd Precinct — on his Facebook page.

Officer safety concerns were not limited to New York.

A directive warned officers in Newark not to patrol alone and to avoid people looking for confrontations.

In Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey urged the leaders of protests over the deaths of Garner and Michael Brown, an unarmed black man fatally shot by a white officer in Ferguson, Mo., to “call for calm and not let this escalate any further.”

In Boston, Police Commissioner William Evans said police issued an alert warning officers about the New York City slayings and added that the department had issued several alerts following the Ferguson grand jury’s decision.

Contributing: William M. Welch and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY; Associated Press

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