New York’s former top cop on Sunday slammed the city for agreeing to pay out $6 million to protesters who were penned in, and some of them beaten or pepper-sprayed, by NYPD officers during a 2020 demonstration in the Bronx.
Ray Kelly, 81, who twice served as NYPD commissioner under mayors David Dinkins and Mike Bloomberg, said the settlement agreement — signed off on by a federal judge — was “disgraceful.”
“All they do is settle these cases, what about going to trial on, on some of them?” Kelly told John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 AM’s “Cats Roundtable.”
“They [the plaintiffs’ lawyers] know that the city will only throw money at these radical groups and that might amount to them as a payday — and it sure did, or it sure will,” he continued. “So it is absolutely I think gut-wrenching that they continue to do this.”
His comments came after the city agreed to shell out $21,500 to each to the more than 300 people that were “kettled” by officers in Mott Haven on June 4, 2020, as they protested police brutality in the aftermath of the caught-on-camera cop killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
In doling out the possibly record-breaking settlement, officials determined that cops had penned in demonstrators before a newly imposed 8 p.m. curfew was set to lapse, and then charged at them, battering some with police batons and Mace.
The incident came after activists had taunted the NYPD with a flyer of a burning cop vehicle and egged on fellow demonstrators to violate the newly imposed curfew.
“The city was facing anarchy,” Kelly told Catsimatidis.
“The protesters were intent on provoking mayhem and grinding the city to a halt. There were several days of violent demonstrations. In this particular case, they violated a curfew that Mayor [Bill] de Blasio put in for two nights,” he said.
“The police were forced to take aggressive action and make arrests. And, by the way, nobody spent any time in, in jail as a result of those arrests.”
Individuals who were arrested that night are set to receive an additional $2,500 under the terms of the settlement.
The NYPD had defended the tactics, with then-Commissioner Dermot Shea claiming they were “executed nearly flawlessly.” Shea also noted that some of the demonstrators were found to be brandishing hammers, lighter fluid, gas masks and fireworks.
“In the citywide riots that lasted for quite awhile in the Bronx, in Manhattan, and Brooklyn, about 1,000 cops all told were injured. But you’re right I think it’s actually the Corporation Council [the city’s law department] that’s looking to settle the cases,” Kelly said.
Kelly predicted that there would be more payouts made to New Yorkers in connection with the citywide protests, and blamed City Hall for pitting cops against civilians amid a nationwide reckoning with police brutality at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“If you remember, Mayor de Blasio said [to police] ‘go easy.’ [Chuckles] He didn’t tell that to the demonstrators. He didn’t tell that to the people who injured over 1,000 cops,” Kelly said.
“He should’ve taken a very hard line. He had to keep the city functioning, and these people were hell-bent on shutting it down.”
Kelly also shamed Albany lawmakers for failing to roll back New York’s controversial bail reform law, which eliminates bail for non-violent offenders in an attempt to make the justice system more equitable for those in poverty.
“They’re sticking their finger in the eye of, uh, of New Yorkers because they have the power to do it,” he said of the Democrat-dominated legislature.
“It makes absolutely sense for New York State to be the only state in the union where dangerousness is not considered by a judge. They want it that way,” Kelly opined.