CBS News legend Mike Wallace died yesterday and will be remembered for his hard-hitting interviews throughout the decades on 60 Minutes. But some New Yorkers may also remember him as a man who simply wanted to protect his meatloaf and was victimized by the authorities in the process: In 2004, he was taken to the 19th Precinct after getting into an argument with two Taxi and Limousine Commission inspectors over a double-parked car.
On August 10, 2004, Wallace had gone inside Luke's Bar & Grill on Third Avenue near E. 79th Street to pick up a take-out order of meatloaf while his car service was waiting outside. But when he got the car, two TLC inspectors were checking the vehicle. The TLC said, "[Wallace] became overly assertive and was reported to be disrespectful to the inspectors. He was asked three times to step away from the vehicle and cease interfering. At one point Mr. Wallace appeared to lunge toward one of the two inspectors. The other inspector became concerned with his partner's safety and at that point cuffed Mr. Wallace."
However, witnesses said Wallace never lunged, adding that the inspectors were being jerks: One allegedly told Wallace not to "give [him] any lip" (Wallace replied, "I'm not giving any lip") and the then-86-year-old Wallace was thrown against the car and cuffed, with the officer saying, "Anybody else?" Luke's Bar and Grill owner Luigi Militello said Wallace was a regular, "Anyone that knows him can tell you he doesn't behave wildly."
Wallace was given a summons for disorderly conduct and explained to Don Imus, "I ordered a car service to pick me up to take me over to a restaurant where I was going to get some meatloaf and then go home. All of a sudden some traffic and limousine cops intervened. So all I was trying to do was protect my meatloaf." Wallace said that one inspector basically put him in a hammerlock! Even Mayor Bloomberg got into the fray, criticizing the TLC, "I'd want to find out more why a man in his 80s was so threatening that they had to arrest him when they normally don't arrest anybody."
The TLC eventually apologized to Wallace—according to the NY Times, the TLC admitted "the inspector with the handcuffs, Keefe Roman, was not yet authorized to carry them or issue a summons. Mr. Roman, a rookie inspector, had not received a ''special patrolman' designation from the Police Department, which typically comes a few months after the inspectors finish their training."
After returning from the police station on August 10, 2004, Wallace called Militello that he was at home eating the meatloaf. Later on, Luke's renamed its meatloaf dish "The Mike Wallace Meatloaf" ($17.95). We spoke to Militello today, who said he was very disheartened about Wallace's passing. Wallace had been a regular until recent years, due to his health problems. Militello said, "He was a good man and I know he had a wonderful life. God bless his soul."