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Police Union Blames Mayor, Protesters For Deaths Of 2 NYPD Officers

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Police Union Blames Mayor, Protesters For Deaths Of 2 NYPD Officers

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Police Union Blames Mayor, Protesters For Deaths Of 2 NYPD Officers

Police Union Blames Mayor, Protesters For Deaths Of 2 NYPD Officers

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Details continue to emerge about the gunman who killed two New York City police officers in Brooklyn on Saturday. Investigators are trying to determine what drove Ismaaiyl Brinsely to those acts.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Last night, there was a candlelight vigil in Brooklyn, remembering two slain police officers. They were killed Saturday by a man who approached their police car and just opened fire. We're now learning more about the gunman.

Police say 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsely had 19 past arrests. His family also told police he tried to hang himself last year and has used Instagram to rant about police and government. As investigators determine what drove Brinsely to kill, some in the NYPD are blaming New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio saying he's divided police and the community. Member station WNYC's Brigid Bergin reports.

BRIGID BERGIN, BYLINE: At a hospital in Brooklyn Saturday night, New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton looked weary and grief-stricken as he described the shooting deaths of NYPD officers Wenjin Lu and Rafael Ramos.

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BILL BRATTON: They were quite simply assassinated, targeted for their uniform and for the responsibility they embraced to keep the people of this city safe.

BERGIN: Somberly, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed his outrage saying when a police officer is murdered, it tears at the foundation of society.

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MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: It is an attack on all of us. It's an attack on everything we hold dear.

BERGIN: But a contingent of increasingly angry police officers say those attacks have come about because of the mayor. As he walked through a crowded hallway inside the hospital that night, officers signaled their anger by turning their backs on him. Outside the hospital, hundreds saluted ambulances that carried away the bodies of the two officers.

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BERGIN: Then police officer union president Patrick Lynch told reporters unequivocally who was to blame for what happened - the protesters and the mayor.

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PATRICK LYNCH: That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor.

BERGIN: He accuses the mayor of not backing the police in the wake of the grand jury's decision in the Eric Garner case and the ongoing protests that have come after it. A week earlier, Lynch urged officers to sign a form instructing the mayor not to attend their funeral if they die in the line of duty. The mayor's office has called his comments irresponsible. But Lynch says the same about the mayor for meeting with protesters. On Friday, de Blasio sat down with a small group who continued to demand changes in the criminal justice system - later saying...

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DE BLASIO: I explained to them that there were some areas where I found agreement with them, there were others where I didn't.

BERGIN: As a candidate, de Blasio promised to bring reform to the NYPD. And as mayor, he started to do that, ending low-level marijuana arrests and beginning a wholesale retraining of the department. At the same time, officers have been working with an expired contract, and negotiations with the city are at an impasse.

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BERGIN: Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio went to St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown Manhattan to join New Yorkers praying for the two slain officers. Outside, an officer with black tape across the shield of his badge politely declined to talk.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: You know what? I don't mean any disrespect. I'm really sorry. My nerves are raw right now. I can't talk about it. I'm sorry - all right? - with all due respect, all right?

BERGIN: After walking away, he stopped to hug another officer whose eyes were red with tears. When the city pays its respects to the two fallen officers at their funerals, the mayor plans to be there. For NPR News, I'm Brigid Bergin in New York.

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