Sunday, December 21, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: An Argument to Choke On

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It looks like a chokehold and killed like a chokehold – but it's not a chokehold. That's the argument being offered up by the head of the police union, Pat Lynch, in the wake of the death of Eric Garner.

Garner, who resisted arrest on charges of selling loose cigarettes, died after being brought to the ground by a group of police officers in a video that has captured the attention of the city.

Lynch and Ed Mullins, the head of the police sergeants union, yesterday held a press conference in which they took on everyone from the medical examiner to Mayor de Blasio to Al Sharpton for what they had to say about the Garner case.

“The mayor needs to support New York City police officers unequivocally,” Lynch said.

Lost in Lynch's argument is the fact that there's a universe of thought between believing that Al Sharpton should be devising police policy and wondering if there was a way for Eric Garner to be taken to Rikers instead of ending his day in a body bag.

It surely doesn't help police morale for City Hall to have placed Sharpton front and center at a news conference last week about improving police-community relations. And it also seems questionable – in terms of time and money and morale -- for every single police officer to be brought in for retraining because of Garner's death.

But it was still stunning to hear the breadth of Lynch and Mullins' arguments – that would have made even some defense attorneys blush.

Putting on his doctor's robe, Lynch targeted the medical examiner's report that ruled Garner's death was a homicide.

“I've never seen a document that was more political than that press release by the ME,” Lynch said. “Chokehold. That’s not a medical term."

My NYPD right or wrong is a tough argument for many New Yorkers to swallow; it's just like saying that the city can only be safe when there's some collateral damage. But burning a city in order to save it isn't the wisest line of defense. Let's hear what else Lynch has to say tonight on "Inside City Hall" and see if he can turn the volume down without having viewers at home reach for their remote control.

Bob Hardt

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