Shortly after Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton briefed reporters with tears in their eyes Saturday evening at Woodhull Hospital, asking New Yorkers to pray for the families of the two NYPD officers who were killed by a deranged man in Bed-Stuy on Saturday afternoon, police union head Pat Lynch held a press conference outside. "There's blood on many hands tonight," he said. "That blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the Office of the Mayor."
According to Capital, Lynch, who leads 23,000 officers in the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, also blamed “those that incited violence on the streets under the guise of protest that tried to tear down what NYPD officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated." He added, "When these funerals are over, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable.”
Lynch also confirmed that he staged a scene in the hospital hallway, where family members, friends, and uniformed officers could be seen weeping. As Mayor de Blasio and his staff walked to the briefing, Lynch and his subordinates turned their backs to him.
But the PBA denied that they circulated a memo in which they called for a work slowdown. "The mayors hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department," the memo stated, sounding an awful lot like comments that Lynch made last week, in which he urged officers to use "extreme discretion" when patrolling the city.
The blood of 2 executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio. May God bless their families and may they rest in peace.
— SBA (@SBANYPD) December 21, 2014
mutliple sources circulating this memo they say came from a police union. if true, it's biggest police/city hall rift pic.twitter.com/FyG6zvi1JT
— Azi (@Azi) December 21, 2014
Despite Lynch's claim that Mayor de Blasio and the #BlackLivesMatter protesters were directly responsible for the deaths of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos (the police unions and the Mayor's Office have been engaged in bitter contract negotiations for months), Commissioner Bratton said that the suspected shooter, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, was actually from Atlanta.
"His latest residence, as best we can determine, is Georgia, but he's an individual who appears to move around," Bratton said. "He's got a girlfriend in Baltimore, he comes to New York to murder two police officers, he does have some connectivity to Brooklyn, but I won't go into the specifics of that now."
That ex-girlfriend, who Brinsley allegedly shot shortly before 6 a.m., is expected to survive; a spokesperson from the Baltimore County Police Department said her name is still being withheld.
Bratton said that at around 2:45 p.m., Brinsley approached Liu and Ramos, who were sitting in their squad car in front of 98 Tompkins Avenue, took a "shooting stance," and fired multiple times, striking the officers in their heads.
"Officer Liu and Officer Ramos never had the opportunity to draw their weapons. They may never have actually even seen their assailant—their murderer," the Commissioner said.
Brinsley was pursued by other members of Liu and Ramos' unit, until he ran down into the Myrtle Avenue—Willoughby Street G train station, where he fatally shot himself in the head on the platform. A silver, semiautomatic Taurus handgun was found next to him.
Bratton acknowledged the photos circulating that purport to show Brinsley's gun and blood-spattered leg, but declined to comment on their content specifically, saying only that they were "very anti-police" (one of them read: "I'm Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours……Let's Take 2 of Theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner [sic] #RIPMikeBrown").
Asked whether Brinsley was linked to some larger movement, Bratton said that he saw no link "to any organized entity at this time."
"Let's face it. There's been, not just in New York, but throughout the country, a very strong, anti-police, anti-criminal justice system, anti-societal set of initiatives underway. One of these unfortunate aspects, sometimes, is that some people get caught up in the directions they should not."
Mayor de Blasio added, "I don't think it's a time for politics or political analysis. It's a time to think about families who just lost their father, their husband, their son." He also implored New Yorkers to report any threats against law enforcement.
"What we should focus on is if anybody knows of anybody who puts information like that on the internet, or says it, to someone it has to be reported right away so we can protect our officers and protect, again, our entire civilization."
— Millions March NYC (@MillionsMarch) December 21, 2014
Baltimore Police faxed a warning to the NYPD about Brinsley's behavior, but it arrived at roughly the same time that Liu and Ramos were shot. Both officers were part of a Critical Response Vehicle, a roving assignment usually designated for terrorism but that has been repurposed in recent months to address rising crime in NYCHA developments like the Tompkins Houses. (The complex is in the 79th Precinct; Ramos and Liu were from the 84th Precinct.)
Ramos had been an NYPD officer for two years, and turned 40 on December 12; he is survived by his wife and 13-year-old son. Liu, 32, had been with the department for seven years, and was recently married.
"Here we are coming into Christmas week, where we celebrate a birth. A birth that changed history for 2,000 years," Bratton told reporters. "Instead, this week, now, in this city,this department, we're going to be mourning the death of two young men."