One Police Plaza

Rudy’s pithy policy on right to know

June 15, 1996

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his First Deputy, Police Commissioner Howard Safir, said yesterday that the department had no obligation to inform the public of certain crimes that occur in the city, including the alleged attack by John Royster on a 52-year-old woman as she speed-walked near the 60th street heliport.

Royster allegedly bashed Shelby Evans' head so badly that she lay bloody and unconscious on the roadside before being discovered by a passing motorist, police said. The motorist, Jacqueline Alexander-Tosi, says detectives later told her Evans was rushed to the intensive care unit of New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and might have bled to death had Tosi not spotted her. Evans was hospitalized for three days.

Royster, as we now know, is accused not only of beating Evans' face into a pulp on the night of June 5 but also of nearly beating to death a woman in Central Park the day before, another woman in Yonkers two days later and murdering yet another woman on Park Avenue last Tuesday.

Now, here is what Mayor Giuliani and First DepSafir said yesterday after reporters questioned why the police department did not report Evans' attack to the public until the reporters began asking about it eight days and two attacks later:

Safir called the questions "pure nonsense." At a City Hall news conference, Safir said, "Nobody withheld anything. Nobody did anything to withhold anything on this particular case from the media. Hundreds of crimes are reported every day. We give you reporters sheets full of crimes every day that you don't report on.

"Our job is to investigate the crime, to get hold of the people who commit the crimes . . . Your job is to report on it. When you request information, we give it to you, but nobody withheld anything."

"And it doesn't matter in the investigation," Giuliani chimed in.

Safir continued: "It didn't deter anything in this investigation. You guys are offended because you didn't know about it."

Safir then explained that the department's Public Information Office never learned of the Evans case because it had not been alerted by either the 19th Precinct or the borough command. "If they don't submit it, it doesn't make the crime sheets that are provided to reporters . . . This happens to be a high-profile case." But, he said, "it happens all the time."

Earlier this year, the department did not report the double rape of a mother and her 9-year-old daughter and the shooting of an unarmed 15-year-old by police. Department officials blamed internal miscommunications and then-Commissioner William Bratton was said to be "extremely concerned," according to a top police official, lest the public begin questioning the department's reporting processes.

Safir shows no such concern. Referring to Shelby Evans, he said, "This is all 20-20 hindsight. It was reported the way it was reported. Nobody paid any attention to it until it became an issue subsequent to finding out it was connected (to Royster's other crimes). You are trying to blow something out of proportion."

Now listen to Alexander-Tosi, the motorist who alerted authorities to Evans and who was brought to the 19th Precinct Thursday as a witness to identify Royster as the man she saw fleeing the scene. "What I can't understand is why the police never alerted the public until now. I said to the detectives it's dangerous for people who jog around there. Why don't you warn them of what happened?

"But they didn't say anything. I guess they felt too many bad things were happening . . ."

©1996 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.