Mayor Bill de Blasio fiercely defended his relationship with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton today and slammed as “idiotic” a DNAinfo report that said he’d side with Rev. Al Sharpton over his top cop.
“Look, I have a high pain threshold when it comes to untruths being told in print, but this is ludicrous. It’s inappropriate. It’s idiotic,” Mr. de Blasio said at an unrelated press conference today. “I don’t know how many times I’ve said we have the finest police leader in the United States, and I believe that in my heart. I think Bill Bratton is doing an extraordinary job.”
The story cites “insiders” as believing if tension in the wake of Eric Garner’s death in policy custody worsens, Mr. de Blasio would “opt to stick with Sharpton rather than Bratton.”
Not so, the mayor said — adding he’s “sick of” stories that try to make the issues about specific personalities or conflicts.
“We are blessed to have Bill Bratton as our commissioner, and he is doing a great job and he and I are absolutely united in our approach in fighting crime and bringing police and community together,” Mr. de Blasio said. “We share a vision of bringing police and community together. That’s why stops are down. That’s why marijuana arrests are down.”
The mayor — who had not taken “off-topic” questions from the press since Friday night at 9 p.m. in Brooklyn — also knocked the story by longtime criminal justice scribe Murray Weiss for its anonymous sources.
“I wish that people that people would not talk to unnamed sources and would actually ask me,” Mr. de Blasio said. “I am quite available to answer the question.”
The DNAinfo report follows a tense moment when Mr. Sharpton blasted Mr. Bratton, sitting just feet away from him, in front of reporters at a City Hall roundtable, and as union leaders have bashed Mr. Sharpton and Mr. de Blasio for allowing him to attend the roundtable.
But today the mayor also backed Mr. Bratton on comments the commissioner made on the radio saying citizens should not resist arrest. Video of the encounter leading up to Mr. Garner’s death — which the medical examiner has ruled as a homicide cause by a chokehold — shows Mr. Garner verbally refusing to be arrested for allegedly selling loose cigarettes and asking police to leave him alone.
“He’s absolutely right, there’s no question about it,” Mr. de Blasio said of the commissioner’s comments.
In a democratic society, Mr. de Blasio said, the police are tasked with enforcing the law. Arrest is just one tool police have, but when they decide to use it, Mr. de Blasio said, the public has a responsibility not to fight back.
“Once an officer has decided arrest is necessary, every New Yorker should agree to do what they need to do as a citizen, and respect the police officer and follow their guidance, and then there is a thorough due process system thereafter,” he said.
This story has been updated with a response from DNAinfo.