New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said today that he does not believe the Mayor Bill de Blasio needs to apologize in the wake of the killings of two New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers on Saturday, adding that he has not seen this much tension against the police since he first joined the force in 1970.
Bratton appeared on NBC's Today Show on Monday morning to discuss the murders that caught national attention over the weekend, after 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and killed NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu while they were seated in their patrol car in Brooklyn. After running into a nearby subway station, Brinsley turned the gun on himself and died.
Shortly after the killings, reports surfaced that Brinsley had posted a photo on Instagram boasting that he would be "putting wings on pigs today." Before pulling his gun on the officers, Brinsley — who had a lengthy police record and had just fled to New York after killing his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore — was heard telling witnesses to follow him on Instagram and saying, "watch what I'm going to do."
Hashtags used on the Instagram post referenced this year's police killings of unarmed black men Michael Brown and Eric Garner, indicating the killings may have been an act of revenge against police officers. In both of the cases, grand juries decided not to indict the officers involved in their deaths, instigating weeks of national protests.
Following Saturday's events, many have used Brinsley's social media posts and the trend of large demonstrations against police brutality to indicate a breaking point in relations between citizens and police, as well as between political leaders and the NYPD. More than one police association has said de Blasio has blood on his hands, while Brooklyn's borough president called for protesters to hold off on demonstrations until the two officers are laid to rest.
During the NBC interview, Bratton stuck by de Blasio and spoke out against critics, saying the mayor's actions have not added to anti-police sentiments, and that the mayor is steering funds towards developing the police department.
"I don't believe that at all. I've spent a lot of time with this man," he said. "I have received this year over $400 million outside of my normal budget to improve our training, to improve our facilities, to acquire technology."
Bratton said he did not support the actions of officers on Saturday who turned their backs to de Blasio as he entered the hospital where Liu and Ramos were taken before being pronounced dead. He said the actions were inappropriate, but did reflect the anger of many officers.
The police commissioner's comments come after the head of New York City's main police union — the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA) — laid the blame on de Blasio for the killings.
"There's blood on many hands tonight," NYC PBA President Pat Lynch said Saturday. "That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor."
Previous New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the mayor's troubled relationship with the police went as far back as his 2013 run for office, which Kelly called an "anti-police" campaign. Kelly alleges a drop in approval ratings for the NYPD since de Blasio took office.
"Obviously, there's a lot of emotion involved when two police officers are killed," Kelly told ABC News during an appearance on the network on Sunday. "When the mayor made statements about how they had to train his son, who is biracial, to be careful when he's dealing with the police, I think that set off this latest firestorm."
During an appearance on Fox News on Sunday, Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani placed some of the blame for anti-police sentiments on the president. Appearing on Fox News, Giuliani accused Obama of disseminating "propaganda" inciting people to "hate the police."
"We've had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police," Giuliani said. "The protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged. The protests, even the ones that don't lead to violence, a lot of them lead to violence, all of them lead to a conclusion: The police are bad, the police are racist. That is completely wrong."
Giuliani came down against the police union's comments about de Blasio having blood on his hand, saying it "goes too far to blame the mayor for the murder or to ask for the mayor's resignation."
Adding that he did not think the current mayor was a "bad man," Giuliani said he did feel his successor was "pursuing wrong policies," giving protesters too much free reign.
As they have done with the cases of Garner and Brown, professional athletes and sports teams in the US have weighed in on the killings of Liu and Ramos. The NBA's Brooklyn Nets and the NFL's New York Jets both participated in moments of silence before games played on Sunday, while Jetscenter Nick Mangold wore an NYPD hat before taking the field.
During a game against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin tacked on a peace sign charm below the team's logo on his shirt, while sporting a black stripe on his left shoulder. The team said the gesture was in honor of the officers.
"The New York Giants wanted to honor and mourn the assassination of the two New York City policemen that took place last night," Coughlin said. "Let's let the voice of reason prevail. Violence never solved anything. I realize there are issues, but solve them with non-violent means."
Meanwhile, a foundation linked with the New York Yankees and its owner George Steinbrenner will reportedly pick up the bill for Officer Ramos's two sons to attend college. His 13-year-old son Jaden took to Facebook after his father's death, saying "He was the best father I could ask for. It's horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people that they call for help."