Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Holds Impromptu Press Gaggle

January 30, 2015

Question: Mr. Mayor, I want to know what you had to say to the commissioner and Zach Carter about the settlement?

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Say again?

Question: I'm just wondering what you had to say to the commissioner and to Zach Carter about the settlement?

Mayor: You mean in the – 

Question: The –

Mayor: Machete?

Question: Yeah.

Mayor: No, that's what I said earlier. I think it was wrong. And I think it's not the kind of policy we will do anymore. We are going to change the policy. This has gone on for decades. It's wrong. We should stand and fight in these lawsuits. These are frivolous lawsuits. They're just an attempt to scam the city for money. They're not fair to the officers involved. These officers didn't do anything wrong. The city didn't do anything wrong. And it's some ambulance-chasing lawyers trying to make a lot of money. So, what I talked to the commissioner about, and to Zach Carter about, was – we're changing the approach immediately. We had already been planning to add money to the law department's budget so they could basically have more lawyers to fight these cases. Unfortunately, the reality is, if we stand and fight, we will be spending a lot of time in court, using up a lot of lawyers, and it will cost a lot of money. But it's worth it to end the madness of these frivolous lawsuits, which are not fair to the city, and not fair to the officers involved. So we're going to – right now – change our approach.

Question: Right, but in this anti-cop environment, are you upset at all with –

Mayor: Well, again, that's –

Question: – Zach Carter, for letting –

Mayor: That's an editorial comment, if ever I've heard one. The environment in this city is that people respect our police, and want to work with our police. And that's certainly the view of this administration. I think what people in the city want is for everyone to work together for the betterment of all. So, you can editorialize in your question all you want, but the point of the matter is, we are going to change our policy, and challenge these frivolous lawsuits.

Question: You were already planning to do that prior to this?

Mayor: Yeah, we were already planning – it was going to be seen in the preliminary budget – to add more lawyers, because this has been an ongoing issue. There's been, you know, concern at the police department for quite a while about frivolous lawsuits. There's been concern in the law department. And the economics are the point here. The sad reality, for decades – multiple administrations – was the economic decision, you know, quote-unquote – was to settle, even when it was unseemly, and this was obviously unseemly – but you know, do the thing that would cost the taxpayers less money. We're saying – no, this has gotten crazy. The frivolous lawsuits have gotten out of hand. And we'd rather stand and fight, even if it costs us more money in the short term. In the long term, if it ends the frivolous lawsuits, because we beat them time and time again – it's worth it in money terms, it's worth it in terms of respect for the officers involved, and just what's right. So, this is going to be an immediate policy change. What happened in this case was wrong, and it's not going to happen again.

Phil: Okay, we've got to run, guys. We've got an event to go to.

Mayor: Thanks a lot, guys. 

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