New York 1 News

February 10, 2004

Police Union Calls On Commissioner Kelly To Resign

The police union is calling on Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to step down, complaining he was too quick to call the shooting of an unarmed Brooklyn teen unjustified.

Herman Bell    

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the union for the NYPD’s rank-and-file, took a vote of no confidence in the commissioner Tuesday. Union president Pat Lynch asked Kelly to resign.

During the early morning of January 24, housing officer Richard Neri fatally shot 19-year-old Timothy Stansbury, who was unarmed, when they ran into each other on the roof of a Brooklyn housing project. Later that day, Kelly said there did not appear to be any justification for the shooting.

The union says Kelly should have waited to pass judgment. But not all of the anger stems from the shooting.

“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Lynch said. “We have police officers that are not paid what they’re worth and a police commissioner who refuses to say that. We have police officers on a regular basis leaving other, better-paying jurisdictions. And what does this commissioner do? Make sure to speak to those agencies and not allow these police officers to move forward and on with their career to a better-paying job.”

At the PBA’s monthly meeting in Queens Village Tuesday, delegates piled up boxes that they said contained affidavits and signatures from more than 20,000 officers who think Kelly should resign.

In a statement, NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne said: “By promptly and candidly reporting on the Stansbury shooting, the police commissioner performed a public service for the police officers and the community alike. Some critics are too narrowly focused to appreciate that fact.”

In a letter he wrote to the PBA, according to the spokesman, Kelly emphasized that he his statements about the shooting were qualified to “all indications,” since at that point prosecutors had not spoken to the officers involved.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his police commissioner.

“We should take a no-confidence vote in the PBA,” the mayor said. “We have the best police commissioner this city has ever seen. He’s done exactly what’s right. When he sees information he puts it out. The public has a right to know; it’s public information. This police commissioner has defended the Police Department better than anybody ever has. His record is impeccable.”

The last time the PBA took such a no-confidence vote was in 1999, when it asked then-Police Commissioner Howard Safir to step down. Safir did resign a year later – but only following a series of serious incidents, including the police shooting of Amadou Diallo in the Bronx and the torture of Abner Louima in a Brooklyn police station.

Officer Neri, meanwhile, could be indicted on criminal charges in connection with last month’s shooting.

On Wednesday, sources tell NY1, Neri will testify before the grand jury that is investigating the incident. The testimony is expected to last about two hours, and will conclude the grand jury testimony.

Neri’s lawyers hope his voluntary testimony will help earn him a less serious charge if ends up being indicted.

Neri's partner reportedly told investigators that Stansbury startled the housing officers while they were opening a rooftop door at the Louis Armstrong Houses. But two friends with Stansbury dispute that claim and say Neri fired without warning.