NYPD Confidential - An Inside Look at the New York Police Department
Home Page
All Columns
Contact Leonard Levitt
Search this site

Quieter drama ends in death

June 9, 1997

While the media chronicled in wrenching detail the struggle for life of Malcolm X's widow, Betty Shabazz, in the Bronx' Jacobi Hospital, another drama ended sadly and unheralded.

Two doors from Shabazz in the same Intensive Care Unit, where he'd spent the past two weeks since being shot by a robber, Police Officer Brian Fasack lost his struggle for life last Friday.

As Shabazz' daughters held a news conference outside the hospital, thanking the world at large for its prayers, city cops, unnoticed by reporters, began arriving at Jacobi to pay their last respects to Fasack.

First came PBA president Lou Matarazzo and union delegate Mubarak Abdul-Jabbar. Then Rabbi Alvin Kass. Later First Deputy Commissioner Patrick Kelleher and Chief of Department Louis Anemone appeared.

Said a somber Bronx inspector of Fasack: "We didn't forget him."

Yet until his death, the department had distanced itself from Fasack's off-duty shooting, which occurred around midnight on May 22 in the Bronx, 30 minutes after Fasack dropped his partner off at home.

"I'm a cop. I've been shot," was all Fasack told officers who spotted him driving erratically only five minutes from his partner's home, before he lapsed into unconsciousness.

Police found Fasack's empty wallet inside his car. His weapon was discovered fully loaded under the seat. A spent shell casing indicated Fasack had been shot by someone inside his car.

"There's always a dark side," said a cop at the hospital. "It goes with the job. People always think the worst."

The dark side the cop referred to involves a three-letter word feared more than any other in the department's still dominant Irish Catholic culture, despite its first commissioner of Jewish origin. That word is s-e-x.

Lacking any evidence, detectives investigating Fasack's death have speculated that the person who robbed and killed Fasack inside his car may have been a prostitute. Because of this, the department held no news conference after the shooting. Nor did the Bronx-based COPSHOT organization post its customary $10,000 reward. "Not every slain or wounded cop is embraced," explained a top department official. "They were told to back off."

All this changed when Fasack died. At a news conference at Police Plaza, Deputy Chief Charles Kammerdener said that COPSHOT would now offer the $10,000 reward. The reward hadn't been offered earlier, he explained, because "certain facts" hadn't yet been investigated. Asked what facts, he refused to answer.

Printable versionMatarazzo, meanwhile, importuned Kelleher to persuade Police Commissioner Howard Safir to grant Fasack an inspector's funeral - reserved for officers killed while taking police action. Matarazzo's request was based on the bizarre theory that a carjacker killed Fasack after spotting his police identification tag on a chain around his neck. As Matarazzo optimistically put it (since the tag was under Fasack's shirt), "He was killed because he was a cop."

Doing something. Running for mayor, Rudy Giuliani derided the incipient crime reductions under his predecessor David Dinkins, saying that perceptions of crime were more important to citizens than declining crime statistics.

Well, here is a snapshot of the past month's mayhem:

  • The fatal shooting May 19 of police officer Anthony Sanchez by Scott Schneiderman, who had robbed his father's apartment.
  • The fatal shooting May 22 of police officer Brian Fasack.
  • The killing May 23 of real estate broker Michael McMorrow by two teenagers in Central Park.
  • The kidnap-murder May 26 of 11-year-old Wu Quin-Rong.
  • The June 3 murder of teacher Jonathan Levin.

Banned at the News. Daily News editor Pete Hamill may have allowed his underling Arthur Browne to literally give Hamill's Metro editor an ulcer that sent her packing. But about former Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Maple, Hamill has taken a tough stand.

For the past six months, Hamill has banned Maple's name from the News' pages. The reason, Hamill says, is that Maple stiffed sportswriter Mike Lupica for an interview during the Super Bowl in New Orleans, where Maple was consulting for the local constabulary while promising an exclusive profile to the New Yorker magazine.

"In New York City, for someone to say they have a profile working with the New Yorker at the expense of being covered by the Daily News," said Hamill, "well, they can kiss my Irish - - - . And, he adds, "the ban is almost up."

« Back to top

Email Leonard Levitt at llevitt@nypdconfidential.com

© 1997 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission.