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No Outrage Over Sanabria  

January 15, 2018

Next time you hear Mayor Bill de Blasio or NYPD Commissioner Jim O’Neill babbling about neighborhood policing, or that there were fewer than 300 homicides in NYC last year, someone might remind them of poor Mario Sanabria.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialActing on inaccurate information from an informant that Sanabria’s nephew had a gun and was dealing drugs out of Sanabria’s Bronx apartment in one of the poorest sections of the city, detectives from the Emergency Service Unit broke down his door at 4 a.m on Dec. 5.

They found neither a gun nor the nephew, who, it turned out, had moved out months before. They did find the nephew’s 92-year-old father, Natalio Conde, and the 69-year-old Sanabria, who provided food and medicine for the older man in return for room and board.

Then-Chief of Patrol Terrence Monahan, now chief of department, said at the time that Sanabria, an Honduran immigrant who spoke no English, refused an order to drop a machete he was holding. One of the ESU detectives fatally shot him in the chest.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittNYPD Confidential is not criticizing that detective or others in the raid. As detectives union head Michael Palladino wrote in an email: “We had a legitimate search warrant and Emergency Service detectives followed their search warrant entry training to the letter. Once inside, they had to make a split second decision in the dark with a man refusing to drop a 24-inch machete so our detective acted correctly. We’re not looking to kill anyone but I don’t want to see our people seriously injured or killed either.”

But let’s look at this another way. Police bust down the door of your apartment in the middle of the night. You wonder what the hell is going on, and you grab the first thing you can find. In this case, that was a machete.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialAs Sanabria’s lawyer, Robert Vilensky, put it: “Five police officers can’t figure out a better way to take down a guy who is 69 years old and all of 5-foot-4 and 160 without shooting him in the chest?”

Even worse is that there has been no official outrage. Unless we missed it, there’s not a peep of indignation or apology from either de Blasio or O’Neill, who said last week only that the department and the Bronx DA were looking into it.

Contrast the silence with the nationwide outrage over the “chokehold” death of Eric Garner, which still resonates three and a half years later.

Or with O’Neill’s and de Blasio’s statements after the fatal police shooting of Deborah Danner, an emotionally disturbed black woman after Danner swung at a responding sergeant with a baseball bat.

Why is a machete held by frightened man in the dark in his apartment different from an emotionally disturbed woman who swung bat at a sergeant’s head? Probably because Sanabria, a poor Honduran immigrant, has no political constituency.

IRISH EYES STILL SMILING. O’Neill. Monahan. Shea. Boyce. Despite all the talk of shake-up at the NYPD, these four Irish guys still run the joint. Four other top police officials were told to retire and more were said to be on the way.

But the NYPD is like Old Man River — it just keeps rolling, with or without you.

As dedicated and long-serving as those leaving were, no one is irreplaceable. That goes for police commissioners as well as mayors. Somehow the city managed to survive the 12 years of Ray Kelly. Bill Bratton’s second term as commissioner is already all but forgotten.

Time will tell about O’Neill. He’s the first commissioner in 25 years whose ego appears commensurate with his stature. Let’s hope that lasts.

Ditto Mayor de Blasio.


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