New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, now in Italy, first tapped well-known attorney Richard Emery last week as part-time chairman of the NYPD Civilian Complaint Review Board. In March, Emery and his firm announced a lawsuit against a different city entity, the Campaign Finance Board, on behalf of former mayoral candidate John Liu.
But city conflict-of-interest rules do not bar part-time board members from interacting for pay with other boards. Emery, meanwhile, is no stranger to Police Commissioner William Bratton who, while considering running for mayor 14 years ago, included Emery in his "kitchen cabinet."
Emery's appointment comes at a dicey and perhaps defining time for police-community relations.
Bratton has been called on to respond to the death in custody last week of Eric Garner on Staten Island after a chokehold banned under police guidelines was evidently used on him and after he said repeatedly, "I can't breathe."
The politics of the incident seem to break out this way: Republican borough District Attorney Dan Donovan will draw fire from the Rev. Al Sharpton, an ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio, and others looking to build public pressure for criminal charges.
Bratton would seem likely to go for maximum penalties against the officer who grabbed Garner around the neck, who is now on modified assignment. PBA President Patrick Lynch has already warned against rushes to judgment.