Former NYPD commish speaks on 2007 assassination attempt

Former NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly is speaking out publicly for the first time about a Rikers Island inmate’s plot to behead him and bomb police headquarters some 16 years ago.

But Kelly wasn’t scared, the longest-serving commissioner in NYPD history told The Post in an interview ahead of a new A&E docu-series detailing how authorities foiled the 2007 scheme.

“We had this guy identified, and he was in prison,” Kelly, 81, said, recalling David Brown Jr.’s plan to hire a hitman to kill and dismember him.

“I felt relatively secure,” Kelly, who led the department between 2002 and 2013, said cooly. “It really didn’t jolt me that much. You probably don’t want to hear that, but that’s pretty much what it was.”

The chilling plot was ultimately stopped thanks to the work of an undercover officer — with Kelly lauding him and other such investigators as unsung heroes.

Brown, a 47-year-old convicted Brooklyn felon, had told undercover NYPD Det. Chuck Byam that he was enraged by the November 2006 police killing of Sean Bell, who was shot the morning of his wedding while unarmed.

He faulted Kelly over the case — and wanted the top cop beheaded as punishment and NYPD headquarters at One Police Plaza bombed, he told Byam. And he was willing to pay $165,000 to get the job done.

“Well, what I need to do is have the police commissioner killed – I want him murdered,” Brown told Byam on a clip of the first episode of “Undercover: Caught on Tape” set to air Thursday.

Former NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly said he wasn’t scared by the 2007 assassination plot.

“I just can’t take it no longer,” Brown continued in the recording, according to the clip shared with The Post.

“Every time something happens, how the police commissioner backs the police up. That kind of like got me frustrated to the point where I want him murdered.”

Byam, now a retired 25-year NYPD veteran who was interviewed for the series, said: “This guy has got some balls.”

“Not that he wants to kill another drug dealer, or a rival. He wants to kill the police commissioner of New York City,” Byam said. “That’s big.”

A photo of One Police Plaza in New York City.
David Brown Jr. also wanted to bomb One Police Plaza, which he called the “information capital” of the NYPD.
Taidgh Barron/NY Post

Byam, who is black, added that even though he understood the frustration about black men being killed by the police, it didn’t justify another murder.

“I don’t see how you’re comfortable with yourself wanting to take somebody’s life,” he says in the episode.

Brown’s threats were different than the standard sinister-but-anonymous phonecall, Kelly told The Post.

“The difference here was we knew who this individual was … We knew he was violent and we knew that he had money,” Kelly said. “He had a house that was worth at least $400,000, so it was different than the other threats. That’s when we decided to use the undercover.”

Byam had a pair of recorders in his pockets for the in-person meeting at Rikers Island on Feb. 23, 2007, where the two would arrange the hit.

Brown told Byam he needed Kelly killed immediately: “I want his head chopped off,” he was heard saying, according to the documentary.

“I need the people to feel my wrath and my rage,” Brown continued. “Every second of every day he lives, burns my soul. I take it personally every time he overlooks certain things that take place.”

Then, Brown asked if Byam could get explosives to take out NYPD HQ.

“I want that blown up,” he told Byam, adding that it was the “information capital of the world for the whole police department.”

“I want to feel like a terrorist,” Brown said. “I want them to feel like I am a mother f—ing terrorist, ya know?”

Ray Kelly being interviewed.
Kelly said he was glad Byam, the undercover cop, was there to foil the plot against him.

Despite the criminal’s words, Byam concluded that the post-9/11 plot had nothing to do with actual terrorists overseas. It was just one man with a serious vendetta.

The two reached an agreement on the payment, shook hands, then left, the documentary said.

That was all authorities needed. Brown was arrested and charged with two counts of solicitation, ultimately receiving an additional six years behind bars.

“I made a difference in ordinary, everyday New Yorkers’ – I made a difference in their lives,” Byam said in the documentary. “Although they’ll never know I was the one responsible for it, I still feel good about the difference I’ve made in New York City.”

People did notice, though. Then-President Barack Obama sent the detective a congratulatory letter, and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer sent him a flag that had flown over the nation’s Capitol in his honor.

“I felt very honored,” Byam says in the episode. “The fact that I was still alive when I got the flag — that was definitely a honor for me, a touching moment.”

Kelly was reportedly never in any direct danger. Brown, who had been convicted of 30 crimes, was mentally ill and wheelchair bound.

Still, Kelly told The Post that he was “certainly glad [Byam] was there.”

“He did a great job,” Kelly said. “You know, you don’t think about those things in the normal course of business … but when you are confronted with something with all of those details, the specificity of the threat, then it gives you cause for concern.”

He also lauded undercover cops as unsung heroes who work in the darkness with few rewards.

“[Byam] is sort of emblematic of the work that the undercover police officers do every day,” Kelly said.

“They are protecting all of us by really putting their lives on the line.”