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USA Today 3:16 p.m. EST January 4, 2015  .


NYC police union chief calls media coverage of James Blake incident 'unjust and un-American'

By: Nina Mandell

New York City police union chief Patrick Lynch slammed the media coverage of the incident when a police officer tackled and handcuffed James Blake as the former tennis star stood outside of New York City hotel in an an open letter sent to multiple reporters and posted on the union’s website.

“It is mystifying to all police officers to see pundits and editorial writers whose only expertise is writing fast-breaking, personal opinion, and who have never faced the dangers that police officers routinely do, come to instant conclusions that an officer’s actions were wrong based upon nothing but a silent video,” Lynch wrote. “That is irresponsible, unjust and un-American. Worse than that, your uninformed rhetoric is inflammatory and only serves to worsen police/community relations.”

Blake was released after police determined that he had been misidentified by an informant but the incident, which was caught on tape, has put the spotlight on NYPD policing tactics. NYPD commissioner William Bratton apologized to Blake for the incident. New York Mayor Bill De Blasio, who has often had a contentious relationship with Lynch, told the New York Observer that he had also apologized to Blake and believed Bratton’s apology was the right thing to do.

Lynch argued that there can be “mitigating circumstances which caused the officer to handle the situation in the manner that he did” and urged critics to wait for a full investigation, which is ongoing.

“That is why no one should ever jump to an uninformed conclusion based upon a few seconds of video. Let all of the facts lead where they will, but police officers have earned the benefit of the doubt because of the dangers we routinely face,” he wrote.

“The men and women of the NYPD are once again disheartened to read another the knee-jerk reaction from ivory tower pundits who enjoy the safety provided by our police department without understanding the very real risks that we take to provide that safety. Due process is the American way of obtaining justice, not summary professional execution called for by editorial writers.”