After the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police in 2014, and a grand jury’s decision not to indict the officer involved, the mayor delivered an emotional speech invoking his own biracial son Dante, saying he had to train the young man to be extra careful around police.
To some observers, that speech marked the beginning of the end of de Blasio’s time as a committed police reformer. It infuriated police unions, who accused the mayor of having “blood on [his] hands” after two officers were shot to death later the same month. At the hospital that evening, and again at their funerals, officers turned their backs on de Blasio en masse.
The drama engulfed his young mayoralty in its first major crisis.
Several former aides and advisers who worked for de Blasio during that time said it shattered his confidence in tackling perceived problems within the NYPD.
“Cops turning their back on him at funerals in late 2014 and the aggressive, yet seemingly successful, tactics of [police union president Pat] Lynch and the Police Benevolent Association, unequivocally impacted his strategic approach to these issues and arguably the fate of his mayoralty and how history will view it,” said political consultant Neal Kwatra, who has advised and supported de Blasio throughout his career.
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