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Who's At Fault?

October 31, 2016

An email from reader Pete Fiorillo, a retired, 30-year NYPD cop [1962-1993], offers some perspective on Sgt. Hugh Barry’s fatal shooting of Deborah Danner, an emotionally disturbed, 66-year-old black woman. Police Commissioner James O’Neill, placed Barry on modified assignment before the department completed its internal investigation, saying Barry had not followed protocol.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD Confidential“In 1966-67,” writes Fiorillo, “I was on patrol in the 105 Pct. in a then experimental one-man car. I received a call of a disturbance at a Springfield Gardens house. It was about 2 a.m. I got there and saw a bunch of people outside the house. They told me a woman was inside trying to kill a man. I went in and sure enough she was in the kitchen at a bathroom door hacking away at the door, trying to get in and kill the man inside.

“I walked in and because I was a young cop, I thought my ordering her to drop the knife would do it. She turned on me and started charging, yelling she would kill me, ‘You white mother …’ She was no more than 25 feet away. I was stunned. I didn’t even have my night stick out and I knew I couldn’t pull my gun in time to stop her. Even if I had my gun out, I probably would have missed her with all six rounds. [Even] had I hit her all six times, I have no doubt she would have reached me and at the least I would have been seriously injured. I quickly retreated outside to join the others and called for back-up, which was already on the way.

“Her relatives hailed me as a hero. One male member said I could have shot her and nobody would have blamed me. What they didn’t know is if I had two machine guns, I would have emptied both clips into this raging bull.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard Levitt“I was a cop and was foolish enough to think I could handle this. It almost cost me my life. My tactics were bad. This would probably serve me well in future encounters. But nobody is prepared for this.

“There is ALWAYS a better way to deal with ANY situation no matter how serious it is. But in many cases you don’t get a do-over.

“The PD or the sergeant didn’t fail this woman [Deborah Danner.] The entire system failed her because they didn’t deal with the problem because they really don’t care when the PD is around to clean up their mess.

“This woman [in Springfield Gardens] was taken away to the hospital for evaluation. She was home the next day. No charges, nothing.”

No less than FBI Director James Comey’s bombshell announcement that the Bureau was reviewing emails potentially connected to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s personal server was the bombshell story that Attorney General Loretta Lynch had replaced the local FBI agents and her former Brooklyn prosecutorial colleagues from investigating the “chokehold” death of Eric Garner in Staten Island in 2014.

News accounts say Lynch wants a new team of Washington agents and prosecutors because the Brooklyn team felt no federal charges should be brought against NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. The feds are investigating whether Pantaleo, who was not indicted by a state grand jury on criminal charges, violated Garner’s civil rights.

Naturally, Mayor Bill de Blasio piped in, saying he supported Lynch’s decision, and described the Justice Department as “the gold standard in terms of protecting civil rights.”

A former NYPD cop who worked under Lynch for four years told NYPD Confidential: “There is no better person than Loretta. She has the highest standards of integrity.”

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialHe and others outside the NYPD describe her removal of her own prosecutors -- with whom she had worked for years -- as “completely out of character.”

So what happened? Did Lynch want to ensure the public the Justice Department had left no stone unturned in investigating the Garner case?

Or has her character so changed since she was appointed attorney general a year and a half ago that she made what could be seen as a political decision to indict Pantaleo?

If so, that’s some gold standard.

Unfortunately, because Lynch met with Bill Clinton before Comey closed the email investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, many perceive her as damaged goods. Her action in the Pantaleo case, with no public explanation from her, furthers that perception.

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Copyright © 2016 Leonard Levitt