Mayor Bill de Blasio Friday reneged after assuring reporters he would field "any and all questions" about a video that caught the mayor's motorcade disregarding traffic rules, abruptly ending a news conference and turning his back on shouting reporters.
Instead of answering questions, de Blasio read a brief statement citing Police Commissioner William J. Bratton's remarks that he's "not overly concerned" with the CBS 2 report Thursday, which showed the mayor's two-SUV caravan running stop signs, speeding almost 20 mph over the speed limit and failing to signal.
Two days before the report, de Blasio held a news conference touting his "Vision Zero" traffic safety plan to crack down on reckless drivers as part of a strategy to reduce pedestrian fatalities.
Outside his Park Slope home Friday morning, de Blasio said he'd address reporters' questions on the controversy at his scheduled afternoon news conference, centered on a deal over the future of financially troubled Long Island College Hospital. "You can ask all the questions you want," he said.
More often than not, the mayor will take off-topic questions near the end of a news conference.
But this time he didn't. He refused to take questions unrelated to the hospital and read what he described as a "very, very simple" statement lasting some 40 seconds.
"I have great respect for NYPD security training and protocols. I am committed, obviously, to traffic safety and safe streets in NYC. That's why we put forward 'Vision Zero.' Commissioner Bratton addressed the topic of my security detail earlier today, and I'm very comfortable with what Commissioner Bratton said. And I refer you to his comments. Thank you very much."
De Blasio then hurried away from the lectern in City Hall's Blue Room while reporters shouted questions. Asked why the mayor refused to take the expected questions, spokesman Phil Walzak responded: "As the mayor said today, Commissioner Bratton addressed this issue this afternoon."
Neither he nor the police department explained specifically what security protocols would require his bodyguards to disregard traffic rules in a residential neighborhood without activating the SUV's flashing lights or sirens.
The mayor also did not respond to a New York Post story and accompanying video that showed him apparently jaywalking -- crossing a Park Slope street against a "Don't Walk" sign.