January 28, 2004
By JOSE MARTINEZ and MICHELE McPHEE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly came under fire from his own rank-and-file yesterday for quickly denouncing the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen.
Numerous cops interviewed by the Daily News said they felt betrayed by Kelly.
They accused the top cop of rushing to judge Officer Richard Neri, who killed Timothy Stansbury Jr., 19, on a Brooklyn rooftop early Saturday.
Some cops were concerned Kelly's comment could inflame relations between residents and police.
"It's terrible. It's too soon. This guy is getting crucified for an accident," one Brooklyn cop said. "If he does jail time for an accident, it's a travesty."
His comment echoed those of Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch, who also denounced Kelly.
"How does he expect them to go into dark stairways and rooftops if they don't have his backing?" Lynch said."We are asking for fairness. Only [Neri] knows if it was an accident, or he perceived danger."
Paul Browne, a spokesman for Kelly - who had been widely praised elsewhere for saying there appeared to be "no justification" for the shooting - said the commissioner ordinarily comes out in defense of cops.
He pointed to three fatal police shootings that Kelly defended on New Year's Eve 2002.
"He did the same thing in this incident only the information was not what everyone wanted to hear," Browne said. "Commissioner Kelly tells the unvarnished truth and he feels he has the obligation to do so." Neri was not talking. His lawyer, Stuart London, suggested the cop might testify before a grand jury - but would not meet with prosecutors first.
"My expectation is the earliest he would testify - that is, if he testifies - is the week after next," London said. "He's still traumatized by the incident and saddened by the family's loss. He's hoping he will have a fair opportunity to tell his side of the story at the appropriate time."
Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes insisted he has not made any decision. "Until we speak to [Neri] we are not going to have a full picture of what happened," Hynes said. "I do not rush to judgment."
With Fernanda Santos, Carrie Melago, Kerry Burke and Austin Fenner