Washington Gadfly

De Blasio Honcho Backtracks On Calling Police Unions Pigs

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board chairman Richard Emery offered a half-baked apology Thursday for saying police unions demanding his ouster for an alleged conflict of interest were “squealing like a stuck pig.”

“Pig” is a notorious anti-police slur dating to the 1960s. But Emery claimed in his apologia to have used the word without understanding its context when he dismissed complaints from the Patrolemen’s Benevolent Association and Sergeants Benevolent Association. They objected to his law firm handling a police brutality lawsuit by a Queens man who had filed CCRB complaints.

“I never would use the word ‘pig’ to refer to police officers,” he said in a statement issued by the CCRB. “I have the utmost respect for policing as a civic function and police officers as people and public servants who selflessly serve all of us. To the extent that anyone was offended by my poor choice of words, I apologize and want to make clear that nothing I said was directed at our superb public servants.”

Appointed CCRB chairman by New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio in 2014, Emery issued the statement after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo demanded he resign or apologize. But de Blasio, widely considered anti-cop, only labeled Emery’s rejoinder to the unions “insensitive.”

Meanwhile, it turns out his Manhattan law firm, Emery Celli Brinkerhoff Abady, has sued quite a few of the people he now professes to believe are “superb public servants.”

According to the New York Daily News, it has garnered “more than $1 million in settlements and legal fees from suits against the city and NYPD since he assumed his position in July 2014.”

Conflicts of interest are easy to assert but hard to prove. Emery’s police ties go both ways. Emery’s son actually works for NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

On the other hand, as first disclosed by this reporter, Emery’s law partner is chairman of a federally-funded legal aid group, the Bronx Defenders, that participated in a 2014 rap video urging blacks to kill supposedly racist New York cops.

Asked at the time how police officers could trust his fairness as CCRB chairman given the connection Emery bristled. “I am sure your mother has connections by two, three or six degrees to a murderer.”

He added that the Patrolman Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch was working in cahoots with the New York Post, which first exposed the video, to obscure police misconduct by inciting racial tensions.

Emery did, however, call its contents “despicable” but insisted the Bronx Defenders were “duped” into making it. Actually, the New York City Department of Investigation later determined the group participated knowing full well of the lyrics.

But Friday afternoon, Emery was much less chatty when pressed on his own violence laden broadside against the police. Asked if the context of “pig” had somehow escaped his knowledge over the last four decades he said, “I am not interested in talking to you. Goodbye.”