New York Daily News

October 28, 2014


 

Cops wrongfully helped Staten Island chokehold victim Eric Garner’s mom: union

 

Police allegedly fixed Gwen Carr’s headlight so she wouldn’t get a ticket. ‘If the NYPD is now in the car repair business, then they need to let the general public know that if they get a ticket, don't pay it, just call an NYPD boss and they'll fix it. This is just absurd,’ Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said.

BY THOMAS TRACY , ROCCO PARASCANDOLA

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ /FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Gwen Carr, left, Eric Garner's mother, says she didn't pull any strings to get cops to fix her headlight.

The mom of Staten Island police chokehold victim Eric Garner got special treatment when cops fixed her car so she could avoid a summons, angry police union leaders said Monday.

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch demanded that the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau investigate the matter because it appeared top brass were involved in the incident.

“If the bosses involved fixed the ticket, then they must report themselves to Internal Affairs for disciplinary charges,” Lynch said. “If the NYPD is now in the car repair business, then they need to let the general public know that if they get a ticket, don't pay it, just call an NYPD boss and they'll fix it.

“This is just absurd."

But the mother, Gwen Carr, 65, didn’t pull any strings, according to a spokeswoman for the National Action Network — the cops showed up unsolicited to fix her Kia’s busted headlight.

“They offered to help and they did replace the bulb, but she didn’t call anybody,” Jackie Johnson said. “She told them she is fully capable of fixing her own headlight.”

The NYPD, meanwhile, had no official response, though a high-ranking source said that while Carr didn’t call police she did call a community leader after she was pulled over on Staten Island the night of Oct. 21 because a headlight on her car was burned out.

The community leader in turn called Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre, the Staten Island borough commander.

The community leader, the source said, wanted to make sure the summons was legitimate and that Carr wasn’t being targeted because she has a $75 million lawsuit against the city for the July death of her son, whose death was captured on video that went viral.

Delatorre found out what the summons was for, the source said, then told Capt. Alan Larson of the Staten Island Task Force to make sure Carr gets the NYPD form necessary to mail to Motor Vehicles once the light is fixed. That would void the summons, the source said.

The source added that the officer who issued the summons hadn’t told Carr how to void it, which officers are supposed to do.

The word was passed down to Lt. Anthony Longobardi, who drove to Carr’s home with the form, but not before he decided, on his own, to buy a replacement bulb for the headlight, the source said.

But Lou Turco, head of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association, said Longobardi was ordered to fix the car himself.

“My lieutenant was told by the captain to get a light bulb, go over there and fix the light,” Turco. “Any lieutenant is not going to, on his own, drive around, get a lightbulb and fix someone’s light.”

Carr said she never asked for special treatment.

“The only thing I have ever requested of the NYPD was what any mother would ask, which is the arrest for the killing of my son,” she said in a statement.

Before the repair actually occurred, an Emergency Service Unit supervisor, Sgt. Anthony Lisi, was ordered to do the work because he had a special screwdriver needed to change the bulb.

But Lisi refused.

“He thinks it’s a joke,” said Edward Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. “He said, ‘I’m no mechanic. That’s not what we do. We’re not touching the car.’”

Lisi did offer to provide the tools necessary to replace the light.

The lieutenant worked with a sergeant, Carr’s neighbors and her husband to replace the light, the source said.

The police source said the NYPD would review the matter but doubted anyone would be disciplined.

Garner was killed in July when police confronted him about selling loose cigarettes on Bay Street. The case gained widespread attention after the Daily News obtained video of the incident.

It showed an officer, Daniel Pantaleo, grabbing him in what Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called an “apparent chokehold.”

The chokehold and chest compressions caused Garner’s death, the Medical Examiner’s office ruled, with asthma and heart disease contributing factors.

A grand jury is hearing evidence in Garner’s July death.