One Police Plaza

Diallo case still sensitive

March 18, 2005

Whether or not you think Fernando Ferrer is a political opportunist, one thing should be clear to all New Yorkers: Six years and one month after Amadou Diallo was shot dead by four cops, his death still resonates through the city like no other.

Ferrer, the leading Democratic candidate for mayor this time round, created a firestorm this week when he told the 4,600-member Sergeants Benevolent Association that the Diallo shooting was a tragedy not a crime.

In addition, he said the four officers who were acquitted by a jury in Albany in 2001 had been "over-indicted." The four were acquitted after being charged with second-degree or "intentional murder." Readers can decide for themselves whether this was an "over-indictment."

SBA president Ed Mullins said of Ferrer's recent remarks: "In the past, his responses were against the police. I tend to believe he is realizing that as mayor you can't be one-sided to any group of people."

Of the four cops he said: "The key is intent. I have never encountered a cop who intended to drive to work to shoot someone he didn't know in order to make a headline, to disrupt the whole city and his personal life."

Four years ago when Ferrer ran for mayor, he was the first and only candidate calling for the firing of those four officers.

That issue was so sensitive then that his primary opponent, Mark Green, disassociated himself from former police commissioner Patrick V. Murphy just minutes after Murphy had endorsed him. In response to this reporter's question, Murphy had suggested that the four cops be sent to a low-crime precinct in Staten Island.

In light of his past tough talk, Ferrer's statements this week drew criticism from Diallo's mother, many of the city's black politicians and the New York Post, which in apparent preparation for supporting Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as it did four years ago, said Ferrer was "having trouble with consistency."

An examination of Ferrer's past statements on Diallo, many of which appeared in this column, indicate his criticisms were directed not just at the officers but also at Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and ex-police commissioner Howard Safir.

©2005 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.