Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani ripped Mayor Bill de Blasio for convening a public roundtable with Rev. Al Sharpton and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton where the civil rights activist verbally battered the head of the NYPD.
Mr. Giuliani, who also appointed Mr. Bratton as his police commissioner during his first term in office, attacked the new mayor for subjecting the top cop to Mr. Sharpton’s “complete diatribe against the police” at the meeting held in the wake of Eric Garner’s death. The move, the former mayor argued, would leave police feeling under siege.
“I thought that was a big mistake the mayor made, setting up a press conference like that and putting a police commissioner in that situation,” Mr. Giuliani said on the Geraldo Rivera radio program. “That’s extremely damaging to the police commissioner, to keep up the morale of the police.”
Mr. Giuliani argued the mayor should remain aloof from the conversation about Mr. Garner’s death, which came after officers subjected him to a restraint many, including Mr. Bratton, have identified as a chokehold prohibited by NYPD rules. The medical examiner’s office ruled Mr. Garner’s death a homicide, and Republican Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan is investigating the incident, though no charges have yet been filed.
“I don’t think the mayor should get involved in deciding things, before this very complicated criminal justice system gets started,” said Mr. Giuliani. “The best thing to do is retreat into the role of mayor, which is to stand back and let the investigation take its course.”
The former mayor–who had plenty of his own tense moments with Mr. Bratton, whom he eventually forced out after two years in 1996–also claimed that that the officer involved in Mr. Garner’s death may very well have been justified in his use of force, and suggested that the maneuver he used to subdue Mr. Garner may have been a completely legal headlock.
“When I look at that video, I can’t tell if it’s a chokehold or if it was a move meant to take the guy down,” he said. “The police can’t help it if you start acting wild, you start acting nasty, they have to react.”
Mr. Sharpton sharply castigated Mr. Bratton at the July 31 panel, blasting his “broken windows” approach to crime–which he first implemented under the Giuliani Administration–and knocking him for saying that he did not believe race was a factor in the Garner incident. Mr. Sharpton noted the officer who took Mr. Garner to the ground had a negative history.
“I heard the commissioner say race wasn’t involved–we don’t know that!” Mr. Sharpton said. “How can we assume before an investigation that a policeman with two civil rights violations didn’t have race involved. So we’re going to prejudge what we want and tell the community to wait on the results? I think it is important that we do the business of transforming the police department without losing one thing in keeping crime and violence down because we are the worst recipients of that as well.”
The de Blasio Administration did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Mr. Giuliani’s remarks.