Overreaction? It's a safe bet
August 20, 2001
Some strange and horrifying events occurred in the 70th Precinct in August 1997, but Deputy Inspector Barry Fried's claim that he feared for his safety and that of Officer Eric Turetzky on the night Turetzky was questioned may be over the top.
Fried, then a captain, testified last week in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, where lawyers for Charles Schwarz - the so-called "second cop" in the bathroom when Justin Volpe sodomized Abner Louima with a broomstick handle - are seeking a new trial.
Fried, who is with the Internal Affairs Bureau, said he was called on Aug. 15, 1997, and was told Turetzky had come forward "to put a stick" in Volpe's hands. Fried made for the precinct, but not before picking up two of his lieutenants.
"I believed at the time that I was going to remove the officer from the precinct," Fried testified last week. "I had some concerns both for the officer's safety and, frankly, for my own, and I brought these two lieutenants with me for that reason."
Fried said his fears appeared justified when another officer confronted Turetzky as Turetzky retrieved his belongings and when Patrolmen's Benevolent Association delegate Timmy Lee burst into the interrogation room, saying to Turetzky, "What are you doing here?"
But other police officials, contacted by Your Humble Servant, professed disbelief and even scorn at Fried for his remarks.
Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik called Fried's fears "absurd."
Eric Adams, who heads 100 Black Men in Law Enforcement Who Care and is no shrinking violet when it comes to criticizing the department, dismissed Fried's concerns as "exaggeration."
And a former commissioner who asked not to be identified said incredulously: "He thought cops would attack a ... captain?"
First, federal authorities, who arrested Leb four days after the dinner for mail fraud in connection with a $600,000 loan from the Chrysler Corp., dismissed a complaint against him by U.S. Postal authorities.
More recently, Leb has joined with Rodney Ettman, who is the former chairman and founder of the foundation, to form a new group, New York Cops. Leb says the group "will be dedicated to helping cops, not chiefs."
In the past, those chiefs, in return for being wined and dined, have helped foundation members obtain badges, parking placards, pistol permits and cards from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
In police buff circles, Leb's troubles with the law are blamed on Reggie Ward, who heads the rival New York Law Enforcement Foundation. Ward, a former Finest Foundation board member with Leb, was heard whispering at the Chief's Night dinner that Leb's arrest was imminent.
Ward says he and his brother Cecil, who serves as treasurer of the New York Law Enforcement Foundation, lost $200,000 they invested in Leb's Long Island auto dealership, which went into bankruptcy after Leb lost his business to an alleged Colombo organized-crime family member.
Ward, who says he has filed a $200,000 civil suit against Leb, took another hit last week when former Police Chief Gertrude LaForgia quit the Mount Vernon Police Department, where she'd been chief since 1998.
LaForgia, who retired from the NYPD after 32 years, attributed her departure from Mount Vernon to what she said were two unqualified deputies with political ties to the mayor there. One of them she cited was Ward, who serves as a dollar-a-year deputy commissioner.
Ward says he is "shocked" by LaForgia's allegations.
A graph they produced shows response time during the current year fell from 11 minutes in January to 7.5 minutes by April, then after rising slightly in May and June fell to 7.3 minutes in July.
Yesterday, the Post claimed that Kerik, who heads a force of 40,000, decided to leave because he's afraid to meet with the Rev. Al Sharpton, which the Post says the next mayor would ask Kerik to do.
Department spokesman Chief Tom Fahey says he can't believe Kerik ever said such a thing.
© 2001 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.