NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has transferred the head of the department's elite Emergency Services Unit in the wake of two of its members being involved in two separate fatal shootings. Deputy Chief James Molloy, who the Times describes as "generally well-liked and respected" will now head up the Queens detective bureau, while a deputy chief in the counterterrorism unit will replace him.
Last month, officers from the ESU, who are trained to respond to a variety of hostage and rescue situations, shot and killed Mohamed Bah, who had barricaded himself inside his Harlem apartment. Though police say they used a rubber bullet and two Taser shots before firing 10 live rounds at Bah after he stabbed two officers with a knife, Bah's sister says authorities did not allow Bah's mother to speak to him during the standoff.
“This raises a strong possibility that [Molloy] was transferred because the police commissioner determined that the shooting death of Mohamed Bah was improper and did not comport with N.Y.P.D. protocol,” the attorney who is representing the Bah family, Norman Siegel, told the paper. “Here Mr. Bah is, in the apartment by himself. He’s not going anywhere. There is no reason to rush in and create a situation where the result was that Mr. Bah was shot to death. The protocol says you wait; you wait him out.”
Then on October 4, ESU Detective Hassan Hamdy shot and killed an unarmed army reservist on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens. Witnesses say Hamdy acted out of "road rage" and shot Noel Polanco as his hands rested on the steering wheel of his car. Hamdy stated that he believed Polanco was reaching for a weapon.
The president of the Captains Endowment Association, Roy Richter, says he does not believe that Molloy's reassignment has anything to do with the shootings. “The timing is unfortunate, but no, I don’t see it as having anything to do with those incidents…A transfer such as this is a normal progression in the career path of a high-ranking chief in the Police Department.”
Deputy Chief Molloy, 51, joined the NYPD in 1982, has worked in over a dozen precincts and headed up the ESU for four years.
Siegel called the transfer "good news," while Sanford Rubenstein, the attorney for the Polanco family, said, "It’s interesting that it’s happened at this time, and we’d like to know if it’s connected to the investigation into the wrongful death of Noel Polanco.”