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The Chief’s Blood Lust

August 18, 2008

The police department may have gone further astray than anyone realizes in treating hero detective Ivan Davison like a criminal.

It could look even worse for Internal Affairs Bureau Chief Charlie Campisi, who already doesn’t look so good over the Davison incident.

Specifically, what role did he play in IAB’s obtaining a search warrant targeting Davison who, while off-duty, risked his life to save a stranger but was punished for his bravery?

Here’s what we know so far. Davison ran into trouble with the department last month simply because he had been out, enjoying a few drinks with friends, which — the last time we checked — is his right under the United States Constitution.

During his night out, he stopped to help a man being beaten outside a Queens nightspot. After one of the attackers shot at Davison and missed, Davison returned fire and wounded him.

He was given a field sobriety test at Jamaica Hospital, where he had gone because he suffers from high blood pressure. The testing was done in accordance with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s recent order that any officer who shoots and hits someone must be tested for sobriety. Other than a public relations gesture following the fatal police shooting of Sean Bell, it is not clear what the purpose of Kelly’s order was. But that’s another story.

At any rate, Davison tested a tad over the legal limit for DWI. IAB’s Chief Campisi then ordered Davison to check himself out of the hospital against his doctors’ orders and submit to a more accurate breathalyzer sobriety test at a police facility. When Davison refused, Campisi suspended him for being unfit for duty.

After a few days, Mayor Michael Bloomberg administered a reality check, urging Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to start acting like the normally intelligent being he is. Kelly then restored Davison to full duty and pronounced him a “hero.”

Now, here is where it gets interesting. While all this was going on at the hospital, and for reasons no one has explained, Campisi obtained a court order from a judge to search Davison’s car and home, and to draw his blood.

Why is that so interesting? Well, to obtain a court order, one must convince a judge in a sworn affidavit that a crime has been committed or suspected. Davison’s car was not involved in the incident. He hadn’t been driving, so there was no known reason to search it or to obtain a blood sample from him.

As for the warrant to search his home, your guess, reader, is as good as anyone’s as to what that’s about.

A source familiar with the incident put it this way: “There has to be an allegation of criminal activity, and there is no reasonable basis to believe Davison committed a crime.

“The civilian witnesses and the ballistics evidence recovered from the scene —shell casings from a weapon that was not Davison’s — indicated the presence of another firearm [the gunman’s] and appear to have supported Davison’s account that he was fired upon.”

Added a second person familiar with the incident: “All this information was readily available to IAB. What, instead, led Campisi and IAB to conclude that Davison had been involved in the criminal activity needed to justify the issuance of a warrant?”

So what exactly did Campisi and his boys from IAB write and swear to in their affidavit that prompted a judge to grant such an order? What evidence did they provide to suggest that Davison might have committed a crime?

This is no mere legal technicality.

Maybe Campisi and IAB know something the rest of us don’t. Otherwise, as even a non-practicing lawyer like Kelly knows, what they wrote in those affidavits could be considered a crime itself — perjury.

Give It Up, Mike. For the fourth time in a year, a federal judge has ruled against the police department’s attempts to keep secret its spying on political groups planning to demonstrate at the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Last week, Federal Magistrate James Francis IV again ordered the department to release some 600 pages of surveillance reports, albeit with names redacted to protect the identity of its undercovers.

In opposing the release, Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence David Cohen has cited such nonsense as claiming that disclosure would risk the lives of detectives and threaten “national security.”

Caution: when law enforcement agencies invoke national security, it usually means they don’t want the public to learn they have screwed up big-time.

In this case, that could more than likely involve illegal activity, as the spying reportedly occurred across the country and even overseas, which is, to say the least, not quite within the jurisdiction of the New York City Police Department.

The department has cited its surveillance reports to justify their mass arrests of 1806 protestors at the convention.

Cohen, Kelly and Mayor Mike continue to appeal Francis’s disclosure orders. Enough already.

Message to Mayor Mike: Stop wasting the taxpayers’ money on endless appeals you are ultimately going to lose.

Of course, he’ll probably be out of office by the time that happens.

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Copyright © 2008 Leonard Levitt