NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The deadly standoff at a Brooklyn Jewish center is igniting concerns that the current anti-police political climate in New York can cause cops to hesitate before they act.
As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported, dramatic cellphone video of the tense confrontation between an NYPD cop and a knife-wielding man at the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic world headquarters in Crown Heights on Tuesday morning is earning praise for the patience demonstrated by Officer Roberto Pagan.
LINK: (Warning Graphic Content) Watch The Full Video
In the video, the cop repeatedly demands that the man, Calvin Peters, drop his knife. At one point, Pagan holsters his gun, only drawing it again when the man goes for the knife a second time.
Soon after, an officer fatally shot Peters after he lunged with the knife at a cop, police said.
“I think that’s extraordinary restraint … above and beyond anything that’s required,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD officer and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“I saw the New York City Police Department I recognize,” he added.
But watching the video raises another question: Did the officer wait too long, possibly endangering his own life and those of bystanders, out of fear that his actions could be criticized under the current political atmosphere, which is decidedly anti-cop?
“They don’t have automatic protection,” O’Donnell said. “There’s no legal shield that they have. Every time they use force, they can be indicted, they can be prosecuted, and there’s no automatic protection.”
The protests about the lack of an indictment in the case of Eric Garner, who died shortly after being placed in an apparent chokehold by a police officer, has been Topic A for NYPD cops, informing the actions and reactions of police, O’Donnell said.
“They’re human beings and are totally aware of the political climate,” O’Donnell said. “The officers are trying to stay out of situations where they can be criminally charged and get themselves into trouble.”
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton backed the actions of the cops in the Jewish center shooting, where Peters, 49, used a 9-inch blade to stab student Levi Rosenblatt. The 22-year-old victim, who was stabbed in the left temple, was taken to the hospital in stable condition, police said.
“The actions of the officers are more than justified based on the dangers that they and seven other individuals faced in that basement of that building,” Bratton said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who as recently as last week was criticized by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president for throwing cops “under the bus,” had nothing but praise for the police officers involved.
He said they responded quickly and prevented more people from being injured.
“We thank them for their service,” the mayor said.
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