New York Post
January 29, 2004

TRAGIC TEEN A VICTIM OF THE BED-STUY WAR ZONE

By Steve Dunleavy

If activists and residents of Bed-Stuy want answers in the tragic death of Timothy Stansbury, they don't have to look further than out their front window.

Before Police Officer Richard Neri is lynched by the ropes of those who would play the race card, face facts.

Parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant can be frighteningly dangerous, among the most dangerous places in the city, state and nation.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time cops like Richard spend in the neighborhood is protecting those who live there," said Neri's lawyer, Stuart London.

The brutal fact is rules change with geography.

If it wasn't for a minority of hard-bitten, drug-selling, gun-toting mutts who hold the honest, hardworking majority of people in Bed-Stuy hostage, 19-year-old Timothy Stansbury would be alive today.

The combat zone is so volatile that cops on "vertical [stairway] patrol" in the projects need to carry their weapons unholstered.

The motor-mouths will tell you it doesn't happen on Fifth Avenue, in Westchester or Southampton. And they would be right.

On Fifth Avenue, if you hear a car backfiring, you keep walking.

If you hear a car backfiring in Bed-Stuy, you hit the deck, just in case.

Soldiers in Baghdad are much quicker to react than if they were in Fort Dix.

Even Sen. John Kerry said it plainly about the horrors of Vietnam:

"There were accidents . . . we couldn't avoid . . . We were haunted by the fact that civilians were hurt and killed by these engagements . . . collateral damage."

I hesitate to describe in cold terms the beautiful life of Timothy Stansbury as "collateral damage." But in Bed-Stuy, when a rooftop door flies open in darkness, you don't have time to consult a rulebook, because the history of the area has made it a tinderbox.

"Clearly, he [Neri] is devastated by the loss to the boy's family," said Neri's lawyer, London.

"He is balancing his feelings against the way Commissioner [Ray] Kelly came out saying the shooting was unjustified. But he is optimistic, since PBA President Pat Lynch came to his support, that he will get a full and fair opportunity to tell his side of the story."

Stansbury was as much a victim of the mutts who roam Brooklyn's Baghdad as anything else.