February 11, 2004

‘No Confidence’ In Kelly, PBA Says

Staff Reporter of the Sun

The head of the police officers union angrily called for the resignation of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly yesterday,saying more than 20,000 officers have signed “no confidence” votes against him for saying the recent shooting death of an unarmed teenager was unjustified.

The president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, said Mr. Kelly “tainted the jury pool” when he said the January 24 shooting death of Timothy Stansbury, 19, by a police officer was “not justified.”

Stansbury was shot once in the chest at a rooftop landing in the Louis Armstrong Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant at about 1 a.m. when the stair door was suddenly opened. Officer Richard Neri said he was startled and fired the fatal shot while on patrol with his partner on the rooftop with his gun drawn.

“It is not up to the police commissioner to determine the justification of an incident,” Mr. Lynch said.“It is up to the courts to decide.”

He made the charges at the raucous monthly meeting of 400 PBA delegates who represent 23,000 citywide officers at a Queens catering hall.

In front of his podium, Mr. Lynch had stacked six boxes stuffed with the officers’ affidavits calling for the no-confidence vote.

Mayor Bloomberg was first aboard to respond to the PBA’s action.

“We should take a no-confidence vote on the PBA,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters. “We have the best police commissioner this city has ever seen and he’s done exactly what is right. When he sees information, he puts it out.The public has a right to know.The police commissioner has defended the Police Department better than anyone ever has.”

Mr. Kelly would not comment on the union actions, but a department spokesman said the commissioner’s assessment of the shooting was warranted.

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

Mr. Browne referenced a February 5 letter Mr. Kelly sent to Mr. Lynch a day after they had a meeting.

“While it has been widely reported the I ‘concluded’ that the shooting was ‘justified,’ what I said, in fact, was this: ‘At this point, based on the facts we had gathered, there appears to be no justification for this shooting,’” Mr. Kelly wrote.

Mr. Lynch said officers have other issues with Mr. Kelly and his administration. “Morale is worse than it has ever been,” he said. “It is at a all-time low.”

He charged that disgruntled police officers are trying to seek employment at other police forces in the metropolitan area but are being turned down by the outside agencies because of a program initiated by Mr. Kelly.

“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Mr. Lynch said. “We are police officers that are not paid for what we are worth and have a police commissioner that refuses to say that.

“We are police officers who are leaving for other, better-paying jurisdictions, and what does this police commissioner do? Make sure to speak to these agencies and not allow the officers to move forward and on with their careers.”

The dustup over the Stansbury shooting comes on the heels of today’s expected testimony of Officer Neri before a Brooklyn grand jury. He is expected to testify for two hours about the incident, according to police sources.