The War on Cops is far from over, although the big demonstrations appear to have run out of steam. The latest news comes from the courts, as Michael Goodwin of the New York Post describes how the latest buffoonery from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s allies “point up once again the dangers of his radical anti-police agenda”:
In a decision that earned City Hall and its lawyers a rare but justified outburst from top cop Bill Bratton, de Blasio’s team wrote a check to a machete-wielding thug who was shot by cops after he threatened them.
The payoff to Ruhim Ullah to drop his lawsuit was only $5,000, but the principle it represented — that cops who shot him did something wrong — sent Bratton into orbit.
“It’s outrageous that the city Law Department is continuing to not support the men and women of this department as they go about their duties,” he thundered. “Our cops work very hard trying to keep this city safe, and if they’re not going to be backed up by the city law office, we need to do something about this.”
The commish was still fuming when it emerged that lawyers under contract with the city to represent poor defendants had participated in a video calling for the execution of cops — and lied about it to city investigators.
That would be the “Bronx Defenders,” who participated in the creation of a rap-music video which explicitly called for the revenge killing of police officers (“For Mike Brown and Sean Bell, a cop got to get killed”). They drove the point home by showing black men pointing guns at the heads of uniformed officers. The Bronx Defenders have collected over $40 million from the city over the past two years. They claim they didn’t know the song would advocate the murder of police officers when they agreed to appear in the video and allow their office to be used as a set.
Now de Blasio is blaming a “broken policy” for the payment of $5,000 to the machete-wielding Ruhim Ullah, although Goodwin notes that if anyone is to blame for breaking the policy, it’s de Blasio: “He has made no secret of wanting to settle pending lawsuits quickly, without regard to the merits, which invites others to make frivolous claims.”
The settlement to Ullah is small potatoes compared to some of the other debacles Goodwin mentions, and it’s a small fraction of the $3 million Ullah’s lawyers were shooting for — even as they admitted the cops probably weren’t wrong for shooting Ullah. He went after them with an 18-inch blade during a confrontation in 2010, prompting one of the officers to shoot him in the leg. He admitted to his criminal actions, while his own attorneys mused that the shooting appeared justified, but they dumped a $3 million lawsuit on the city anyway, and ended up getting paid five thousand bucks to go away.
That’s not exactly the “crime does not pay” message law enforcement officers prefer to send. Commissioner Bratton was angered by the admission of wrongdoing implied by even such a modest settlement, saying “our officers did absolutely nothing wrong” and it was “outrageous” that the city law department is “continuing to not support the men and women in this department as they go about their duties.”
Mayor de Blasio would seem to agree, taking the occasion to pledge more vigorous battles against frivolous lawsuits. “We’re going to take them on,” he promised. “They’re coming with these lawsuits in cases where our officers did everything they were supposed to do, and cases where our officers were threatened with violence. In this case, the individual had a machete and was threatening the officers with it… Our officers did everything right. They were threatened with violence. How on earth could any lawyer, with a straight face, say we should pay money to the guy who had the machete? It’s ridiculous.”
That’s such an inspiring blast of fiery rhetoric, that it’s hard to understand why Machete Guy is getting that $5,000 check. Everyone’s outraged, everyone is on the same page, and de Blasio says he can’t understand how anyone ever got the idea that he has problems with the police. So how do things like this keep happening?
Well, evidently not everyone is on the same page. Bloomberg News quotes civil-liberties lawyer Norman Siegel taking umbrage at de Blasio’s characterization of these lawsuits as “frivolous” and dismissing de Blasio’s comments as “just another example of the Mayor trying to placate the police unions by trying to appear not to be anti-cop.” If that’s the case, then Siegel and his colleagues had better settle in for more of the same, because de Blasio has a whole lot of placating to do.