2007_10_joezadroga.jpgProbably realizing that talking smack about a dead former NYPD detective who spent hours at the World Trade Center site working rescue and recovery isn't smart Mayoring, Mayor Bloomberg amended his comments about the late James Zadroga.

Though he had said Zadroga "was not a hero" according to science at an event days earlier, the Mayor acknowledged Zadroga's record and told reporters yesterday, "This was a great NYPD officer who dedicated himself, put his life in harm's way hundreds of times during his career. It's a question of how you want to define what a hero is, and certainly I did not mean to hurt the family or impugn his reputation."

Zadroga's 2006 death has been debated recently because the NYC chief medical examiner ruled that his death was not due to breathing in toxic WTC dust but prescription drug abuse. Two other medical experts disagreed with that ruling, saying there was evidence Zadroga's illness were caused by working at Ground Zero.

Zadroga's father Joseph held a press conference, telling reporters that the Mayor's earlier words felt "like I was hit over the head with a baseball bat. I could not believe he would say something like that. It hurt so bad." He added that he thinks Mayor Bloomberg is "heartless," "He has no compassion whatsoever for people and their lives and their families." Well, that's nothing new with Bloomberg.

Zadroga wants to meet the Mayor and have his son put on the city's 9/11 Victims list. The Mayor's office says Bloomberg would be happy to meet with him, but we're betting it's unlikely the Mayor overrides his ME's findings.

Photograph of Joseph Zadroga by Richard Drew/AP