NEW YORK, N.Y. – Officer Brian Mulkeen was killed on September 29 when he was struck by friendly fire while wrestling with a suspect in the Bronx.

And now one publicly funded group of attorneys is coming under fire for using the hero’s death to demonize police officers in the city as a whole.

But the PBA isn’t standing for it. They’re calling for the group to be shut down.

The controversy started over a Facebook post from Deborah Lolai, a member of the Bronx Defenders, a group of public defenders in New York City.

Lolai’s post was made right after Mulkeen’s death, saying that one of the attorneys that works in the group had come up with a better headline than CNN’s, which had read, “NYPD officer killed in the Bronx died by friendly fire, police say”.

“Anne Dean suggested a much better headline,” the post read, referring to one of the Bronx Defenders. “‘NYPD Murders Another Black Man, Then One Of Their Own’.”

Outraged, the New York City Police Benevolent Association took to Twitter to call out the group for their “disgusting” actions, saying they needed to be shut down.

 

Real nice. Just days after the tragic death of a beloved public servant, a group of activists hop onto their soapbox to push a political narrative.

“This is a PUBLICLY FUNDED organization with a history of promoting vile anti-police rhetoric,” the PBA added, calling for the group to be disbanded in lieu of its cop-hating spouts.

The New York Post said that the Bronx Defenders group was given close to $38 million in public funding last year alone. The group’s website lists Anne Dean as the Supervising Attorney and Deborah Lolai as an LGBTQ Client Specialist. 

The post was deleted as Lolai apparently deactivated her account, but the PBA has screenshots of the post.

Officer Mulkeen was just 33-years-old. Thousands of members of the law enforcement community gathered to pay their final respects during his funeral on Friday.

Officer Brian Mulkeen was killed on September 29 by friendly fire. (NYPD/Flickr)

 

Members from within the community say that his friends and family in no way blame other officers for Mulkeen’s death.

“They know it was [suspect Antonio] Williams,” the Post’s source noted. “They understand it was [Williams’] fault, that no one else did it.”

Additionally, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made headlines for his retort to the statements made by a police widow after Mulkeen died in a similar fashion to her late husband.

Leanne Simonsen, surviving spouse of Detective Brian Simonsen, raised her voice in concern about the details of the death of her husband and Mulkeen, both who were lost to friendly fire incidents. She called New York officers “trigger happy”.

But New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio immediately fired back, saying that while she was a good person, she was wrong. 

NYPD Detective

Detective Brian Simonsen was killed by friendly fire in February. This week, after another officer fell in the same type of scenario, his surviving spouse spoke out. (NYPD News)

 

Leanne Simonsen’s husband was killed in February when he was struck by friendly fire. Then on Sunday, Bronx Officer Brian Mulkeen suffered a similar fate when members of the NYPD accidentally shot and killed their fellow LEO while he wrestled with a suspect.

She spoke out to The New York Post about the similarities of the tragic deaths. 

“I just can’t believe it happened again,” Simonsen said. “I know things happen in seconds, but there’s gotta be some way that you clear your guys before you just start firing.’’

 

The surviving spouse wanted to be sure of how she was phrasing her statements, pausing to clarify. 

“Let me just start with, it’s the perp’s fault no matter what. I’m not blaming the NYPD, she told the Post. “But do I feel like [police brass] need to do something. Training? Absolutely.”

De Blasio negated her comments, saying that while the past eight months were difficult, she was wrong about New York Police being “trigger happy”. 

“She’s a very good person and she’s speaking out of real personal pain,” de Blasio said about Leanne Simonsen’s comments. “My experience has been very different over now six years, having seen so many situations and a lot of body camera footage and other footage where officers showed extraordinary restraint.”

Hold on. Is this the same guy who’s been chastising the way police in his city operate for years? And while he’s calling for more training, it seems like this might be the first time he’s coming to the defense of his officers. 

The department is struggling with Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill at the reigns. (Wikipedia/Flickr)

 

But while he condemned her remarks about “trigger happy” cops, he did see eye to eye with her on one issue – more extensive training is needed for all NYPD officers. 

“There’s a real issue. We lost two of our officers,” the mayor said. “It means by definition we have to keep understanding what the NYPD can do better, and I think training is always part of the solution.”

After Simonsen was killed in February, uniformed officers were mandated to complete “an enhanced one-day training course focused on the response to critical incidents” in order to have better preparation for similar situations in the future.

 

Commissioner James O’Neill also commented that the department “can learn from this.”

“We are going through a full review and . . . [will] determine what needs to change in training,” O’Neill said. “And clearly there has to be some additional approach to training here, and we have to get that right.”

Simonsen’s husband was killed during a chaotic robbery of a T-Mobile store who pulled a fake gun on police. Responding officers fired a total of 42 times during the shootout, a number that Simonsen says is overkill.

“I don’t know the answer, but it’s almost like a trigger-happy thing. It’s almost like, once you hear one officer fire, you all start firing. It’s almost like a reaction. You just start shooting,” Simonsen said.

The suspect in the robbery survived being struck by eight rounds, but Brian Simonsen was killed by friendly fire. 

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She expressed her sorrow for the family of Mulkeen after he was killed in a similar incident in the Bronx on Sunday. 

“My heart breaks for his family because I know exactly what they’re going through,’’ she said.

But now she wants more to be done by the administration — before another family has to endure the same thing.

“I feel like I’ve never really gotten an apology and no explanation and no ‘this is what we’re going to try to different.’ I think something needs to be done, especially after Brian Mulkeen,’’ she said.

Check out de Blasio’s statements below.

 

Leanne Simonsen continues to struggle with the terms of her husband’s demise, noting that the officers weren’t suspended or given further training, but quickly returned to the street not long after the incident took Detective Simonsen’s life.

“It wasn’t just one murder that night. It took my life away, too,’’ she said. “He was actually my world. Without him, I just feel like I exist.”

De Blasio finished his statements by saying the department would do more to prevent further unnecessary tragedies in the future.

“Overall I think the big picture is, every time we’ve invested in training it’s had a very powerful impact . . . and we’re going to do more.”

 

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