A painful moment for the commissioner

James O'Neill, NYPD Commissioner, speaks during press conference.
James O’Neill, NYPD Commissioner, speaks during press conference. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Stan Honda

Was the killing of Officer Miosotis Familia a watershed moment for NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill?

Referring to Alexander Bonds, the black man with mental health issues and a violent past who shot Familia in her marked RV-like command post in the Bronx, O’Neill said during her eulogy last week: “He shot a cop. Mental illness and medication may have played a part, I don’t know. What is certain, however, is that he hated the police. He saw us as the bad guys because countless times he heard it in conversation, saw it on television, read it in the newspapers. Combine that toxic blend with his special brand of evil, and you get this funeral.” O’Neill may have sounded like a hard-liner, but he is not. In fact, at his swearing-in nearly a year ago, NYC first lady Chirlane McCray, quoting his son, described O’Neill as a “chronic do-gooder.”

As commissioner, O’Neill is attempting to re-engage police with NYC’s black communities through neighborhood policing — more interaction between police and the areas they patrol — a policy abandoned by Ray Kelly as community policing and disparaged by Rudy Giuliani as social work. Mayor Bill de Blasio has supported O’Neill’s approach.

Yet, O’Neill’s eulogy surprisingly indicted the anti-police culture found in many NYC black neighborhoods and the so-called liberal media that are often too quick to blame cops in confrontations with African-Americans.

O’Neill has been guilty of that. In his first month in office, he blamed a sergeant in the fatal shooting of a mentally disturbed black woman before an investigation was even completed. Police said the Bronx woman attacked Sgt. Hugh Barry with a baseball bat. He has been charged with second-degree murder.

We’re decades past the Black Liberation Army, which assassinated officers as part of a political agenda. Now individuals like Bonds, often with mental illness, act alone and justify their actions as retaliation for grievances. In 2014, a black man from Baltimore came to NYC and fatally shot two officers in their patrol car Brooklyn, ostensibly in retaliation for the deaths of black men at the hands of police.

As O’Neill put it at the service: “Miosotis was targeted, ambushed and assassinated. . . . That should matter to every single person who can hear my voice in New York City and beyond.”