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OpinionColumnistsLeonard Levitt

De Blasio learns to assess the facts first

What to make of his response to the Jazmine Headley case in Brooklyn?

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to the media

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks to the media earlier this month at 1 Police Plaza about monthly crime statistics. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

‘Mr. Mayor, Why No Outrage Over a Mother’s Brutal Arrest?”

That was the Dec. 10 online headline from The New York Times editorial board, which criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initial nonresponse to the charge that police “ripped a 1-year-old boy from his mother’s arms,” as the paper’s news story described the incident.

Granted, this is the same board that in 2015 called for firing NYPD Officer James Frascatore, who is white, after he tackled biracial tennis star James Blake outside a midtown hotel, mistaking him for a suspect wanted in a credit card fraud ring. That editorial compared Frascatore with Daniel Pantaleo, who may or may not have used a chokehold that led to the death of Eric Garner, a death that fanned the narrative that police regularly mistreat and even kill innocent African-Americans. (Jazmine Headley of Brooklyn, the mother of the 1-year-old boy “ripped” from her arms, is black.)

Yet when it comes to de Blasio’s initial lack of outrage over Headley’s arrest, the Times’ board got it right, at least in part. “Mr. de Blasio’s handling of the incident shows how far he has strayed from his righteous roots as a candidate promising to hold the police accountable and change the way they interact with minority residents like Ms. Headley,” the board stated.

Indeed, while virtually every city official criticized the police, it took the mayor a few days to explain himself. “I reached out to the commissioners involved for an update on what had happened and why . . .,” the mayor said three days later. “Until I got their side of what happened I could not speak to the public. Once I had it, I did. What I say has to be definitive.”

Contrast these words with his statement the day after the 2016 fatal police shooting of Deborah Danner, an emotionally disturbed black woman, by Sgt. Hugh Barry, who is white. After Commissioner James O’Neill expressed sorrow over her death, the mayor went over the top. Although an investigation was ongoing, the mayor said, “It’s quite clear that our officers are supposed to use deadly force only when faced with a dire situation, and it is very hard for any of us to see that that standard was met here . . . Deborah Danner should be alive right now. Period.”

Barry was acquitted of criminality. He faces departmental charges at an unspecified date. Last week, the city settled with Danner’s family for $2 million.

Since then, the mayor has apparently learned to keep his mouth shut until all the facts are revealed. Not so the Times editorial board.

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