The New York Times

January 26, 2004


PBA Prez: Kelly Was Too Quick To Blame Cop

By Sean Gardiner and Leonard Levitt
Staff Writers

TMhe president of a city police union said yesterday that Commissioner Ray Kelly turned his back on the department's rank and file when he too quickly condemned the shooting of an unarmed Brooklyn teen as unjustified.

About 11 hours after Officer Richard Neri, 35, shot Timothy Stansbury, 19, at the Louis Armstrong Houses and just over six hours after the teen died early Saturday, Kelly announced at a news conference that "there appears to be no justification" for the shooting.

Yesterday, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said Kelly's remarks were mind-boggling and unheard of.

"He's not standing behind the police officers and that's how the membership feels," Lynch said. "Only 12 hours without all the facts and he has already made a determination?

"Our concern here is how can the police commissioner come out with a determination that there's no justification just 12 hours after the incident happened, before all the facts are in, before the police officer who is involved in the shooting had the opportunity to speak to the district attorney's office," Lynch said. "How can you then make a determination that it's not justified before all those facts are in? It's unheard of to so quickly make that determination."

A spokesman for Kelly declined to comment on Lynch's remarks.

Lynch also said police work, especially patrolling the roof and stairwells of public housing complexes, which Neri was doing at the time of the shooting, are inherently dangerous.

"When you do this job, unfortunately at times, there are going to be tragedies," he said. "How do you expect a police officer to do this job knowing that the police commissioner is going to jump to conclusions and condemn you before you've had the opportunity to speak.

"The way we brought New York City under control is by police officers being proactive and putting themselves in dangerous positions," he added. "You have to and must stand by those police officers when you're asking them to go into those situations."