By Julianne Malveaux
Is Patrick Lynch, president of the New York Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, obliged to defend his members even when they are wrong? The open letter posted on the PBA website and printed in the New York Daily News lacks credibility and contributes to the fractured state of police-community relations. He has cautioned the media, and others, about rushing to judgment of James Frascatore, the walking assault machine that tackled former tennis star James Blake, put his knee to Blake’s back, and then cuffed him. This was captured by a security camera; the footage is ubiquitous online. Lynch says, “No one should ever jump to an uninformed conclusion based on a few seconds of video.”
Lynch makes every excuse that he can for Frascatore, and chides “pundits and editorial writers” because “they have never faced the dangers that police officers routinely do.” Comments about Blake’s false arrest and further cover-up are “irresponsible, unjust, and un-American.” Lynch says Frascatore deserves “due process, not summary professional execution called for by editorial writers.”
Due process is the legal requirement that the state must respect all the legal rights due to a person. When did James Blake get due process? Frascatore tackled Blake with neither provocation nor even conversation. Either Lynch didn’t watch the video or he doesn’t care that there is a pugilistic police officer that has no regard for due process when he interacts with the public.
Frascatore should have been history in the NYPD some time ago. He has only been part of the NYPD for four years, yet five complaints against him have been filed with the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). All of these complaints involve the excessive use of force. Frascatore is fast with his fists (he is accused of punching people in the head, the mouth, and in the torso); tragedy would be compounded if he were using a gun. For all of Frascatore’s abuse of power, it took his assault of Blake to get him desk duty. Blake has very reasonably called for Frascatore’s firing. But loudmouth Lynch (consider his comments in the wake of Eric Garner’s murder) has talked himself onto a limb with his passionate, but baseless defense of a police “officer.”
If there were due process, Frascatore would have been arrested for assaulting Blake. But police officers accused of wrongdoing hide behind their uniforms and rarely pay for their crimes. If there were due process, a man with five complaints before the CCRB would have been put on desk duty, if not suspended or fired, some time ago.
The New York Daily News reported on a 2013 incident where Frascatore and two others followed bicyclist Warren Diggs home. Once there, they demanded identification from him but proceeded to punch in the head and pummel his body – before he could retrieve his ID. Diggs’ significant other, Nafeesah Hines, saw part of the fracas and began recording it. She asked officers for their names and badge numbers; two complied but Frascatore refused.
When Hines went to move Diggs’ bicycle from the sidewalk and into their home, she was told that she was tampering with evidence and was arrested. The Civilian Complaint Review Board found inconsistencies between Frascatore’s statements and the recording Hines made. It recommended “retraining” Frascatore. Hines also sued the city for false arrest and settled out of court. Warren Diggs still has a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.
The Diggs case reveals Frascatore as an accomplished liar who doesn’t mind breaking the rules. Just as there was an attempt to cover up the Blake arrest, there was also an attempt to justify the brutal assault of Warren Diggs and the false arrest of Nafeesah Hines. Due process, Patrick Lynch?
As Blake has so gracefully said, all police officers are not like Frascatore. He declined to accuse the NYPD, just the out-of-control officer. He accepted the apologies of the police commissioner and the mayor. But he insists that something must be done about excessive force, and he has indicated that he might pursue a lawsuit otherwise.
The NYPD says they have spent millions on training and retraining. Did Frascatore ever get the training the CCRB recommended? Why not monitor those officers who have been “retrained” to see if they have changed their ways? Why not prioritize investigation of those with repeat complaints so that bad apples like Frascatore are terminated before they do more damage?
Patrick Lynch does his members a disservice when he excuses the behavior of officers like James Frascatore, whose only due process should move him out of the NYPD. Due process means arresting Frascatore for assaulting James Blake.
Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist based in Washington, DC. She can be reached at www.juliannemalveaux.com.