NYC Mayor Eric Adams accused of doctoring photo of police officer friend killed in the line of duty

War of words erupts between Eric Adams and New York Times over photocopied image that aides reportedly ‘spilled coffee on’ to make it appear old

Bevan Hurley
Thursday 06 July 2023 19:27 BST
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New York City Mayor Eric Adams admonishes woman at town hall

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been accused of doctoring a photograph of a police officer killed in the line of duty to make it appear much older than it was.

Mr Adams reportedly ordered two employees in his office to print out a copy of a photograph of slain NYPD officer Robert Venable from Google, print it out in black and white and spill coffee on it to give it a dated look, according to a report in the New York Times.

In a furious response, the Mayor’s press secretary Fabien Levy accused the Times of conducting an “unsuccessful campaign to paint the mayor as a liar,” but did not contest the central claim in the article.

Mr Adams publicly referred to the photograph a few months after taking office during a solemn press conference to mark the deaths of NYPD officers Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera in January 2022.

“I keep a picture of Robert in my wallet,” the former Brooklyn police captain said, adding that he still thought often about his friend’s 1987 murder.

After the New York Times asked to see the photograph, Mr Adams posed for a portrait with the “wallet-sized” picture a week after the press conference.

The photograph appears to be wrinkled, and its browning edges weathered by the passage of time.

The paper now alleges that Mr Adams appears to have used city resources to create the photocopied image and ordered two city employees to give it an aged look.

In a statement, Mr Levy insisted the mayor had for years kept a picture of his former NYPD colleague printed from an NYPD Transit News Bulletin from November 1987.

New York Mayor Eric Adams holds up a photograph of NYPD officer Robert Venable, who was killed in the line of duty in 1987, at an NYPD Medal Ceremony in 2022
New York Mayor Eric Adams holds up a photograph of NYPD officer Robert Venable, who was killed in the line of duty in 1987, at an NYPD Medal Ceremony in 2022 (NYC Mayor’s Office)

The Times’ efforts to attack the mayor here would be laughable if it were not so utterly offensive,” Mr Levy said.

“It is disgusting that the New York Times has chosen to have Robert Venable’s friends and family relive the tragic murder of a loved one for nothing more than feeding its obsession with dissecting every single moment of Mayor Adams’ life as the paper continues its unsuccessful campaign to paint the mayor as a liar.”

The mayor’s statement included comments from Venable’s daughter Januari Venable and sister Denise Benson, who confirmed Mr Adams’ close relationship with the slain police officer.

It also included statements from nine of Venable’s former partners, many of whom attacked the Times for its reporting.

“As someone who literally carried Bobby’s casket at his funeral, I am appalled by this line of questioning and the baseless accusations The New York Times has made about Eric Adams,” former detective Sam Calhoun said in the mayor’s press release.

Adams marches at New York City Pride on 25 June
Adams marches at New York City Pride on 25 June (Ariana Baio)

The newspaper noted that Mr Adams brought up the photo during at least two television interviews after the deaths of NYPD officers Mora and Rivera in Harlem in January 2022.

He also pulled out the photo of Venable during an address to the NYPD’s annual medal day ceremony in 2022.

“This photo is Robert Venable. He was one of my closest friends when I was a transit police officer. Robert died when he was shot in the head when responding to a job,” Mr Adams said.

Since getting involved in politics, Mr Adams has made a series of statements that have either been difficult to verify or found to have been false.

The mayor, who promised to bring New York’s “swagger back”, claimed he was vegan, only to later admit to eating seafood, in a mini scandal that was later dubbed “fishgate”.

During the 2021 mayoral campaign, he claimed to have transferred ownership of a property in Brooklyn that he co-owned, only to later cite part-ownership of it in financial disclosures.

Before launching his campaign for mayor, Mr Adams described himself as a “blue-collar guy just scraping by”.

However, in the middle of the mayoral campaign, he spent his summer vacation holidaying on the French Riviera, according to Politico. Mr Adams often spends his evenings at the members-only Zero Bond club in the NoHo neighbourhood of Manhattan. Other celebrities reported to have been spotted there include Kim Kardashian, Leonardo diCaprio and Gigi Hadid.

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