September 9, 2019
If nothing else in his nearly three years as police commissioner, Jim O’Neill has learned to tell half-truths. Others might call them lies.
A decent, honorable guy with a heart, O’Neill, alas, has allowed himself to have been puppetized — [Yup, readers that’s actually a word] — by Mayor de Blasio to further his political agenda both in New York City and in his bizarre run for president.
O’Neill has traveled a long road from his first week in office when, following the fatal police shooting of an emotionally disturbed Bronx woman, he said, “We failed ... There was a person in crisis….We were called to… help someone [and] we ended up killing her.”
Contrast that sincere and heartfelt cry with his and the mayor’s equivocal claims last week concerning O’Neill’s firing of officer Daniel Pantaleo, who had been found guilty in a departmental trial of recklessness in the “chokehold” death of Eric Garner five years ago.
Asked by reporters at an unrelated news conference at Police Plaza last week whether a deal had been offered to save Pantaleo’s pension, O’Neill answered “No official offer was made.”
That seemed to satisfy the reporters in the room. No further question on the subject was asked.
But note the word “official.” Yes, no official offer was made because O’Neill reneged on a deal that Chief of Department Terence Monahan had discussed with PBA president Pat Lynch and Pantaleo’s attorney, Stuart London.
At a PBA news conference the day O’Neill announced Pantaleo’s firing last month, London asserted that Monahan had told him and Lynch that Pantaleo’s pension was safe. ‘He [Pantaleo] is going to get his pension,” London quoted Monahan as saying.
As startling as London’s assertion was, NYPD spokeswoman Devora Kaye confirmed that Monahan had indeed met with Lynch and London to discuss Pantaleo’s pension. “Chief Monahan discussed this as one of the possible options that he thought was fair…” she said last month.
Three days after meeting with Monahan, London received a call from another department official he refused to name, saying the NYPD was preparing the paperwork to finalize Pantaleo’s pension deal.
The following day London learned there would be no paperwork.
So what happened? What caused O’Neill to renege in what some at Police Plaza are calling The Big Cave?
At the same PBA news conference, Lynch said Monahan’s offer was pulled after O’Neill conferred with de Blasio.
Asked about this, de Blasio told reporters, “Don’t believe anything Pat Lynch says.”
Yet we know Lynch was telling the truth, certainly about the Monahan-Lynch-London meeting, which was confirmed by the NYPD spokeswoman. So if de Blasio is calling Lynch a liar, what does that make de Blasio?
At last week’s news conference at Police Plaza, de Blasio refused to say whether he felt Pantaleo should have been fired, although while campaigning for president he termed the firing “justice” for the Garner family.
He added that the decision had not been his, but O’Neill’s. The department had followed the proper process of a departmental trial, he said, and O’Neill had followed the recommendation of the NYPD trials commissioner, who had recommended Pantaleo’s firing.
Not so fast there, Big Bill. If O’Neill had wanted to follow the trials commissioner’s recommendation, why did Monahan meet with Lynch and London to discuss Pantaleo’s pension?
No, the trials commissioner’s recommendation served but one purpose. It provided cover for O’Neill in firing Pantaleo.