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Despite New York Times' False Attack, Family and Friends of Robert Venable Highlight Mayor Adams' Close Relationship With Fallen NYPD Officer

July 6, 2023

NEW YORK – Yesterday, The New York Times approached the Mayor’s Office making claims that New York City Mayor Eric Adams and his old friend and fallen New York City Police Department (NYPD) Officer Robert Venable were never friends. Then-NYPD Officer Adams and Officer Venable came up together in the NYPD before Officer Venable was murdered, and the two were not only colleagues but also close friends. For decades, Mayor Adams has also carried around a photo of Officer Venable as a reminder of his death and the heavy toll gun violence takes on the city. While yesterday’s initial inquiry mentioned a photo, the crux of this request and all initial questions in writing focused on the Times’ claim that there was no real relationship between the two former officers.

The Mayor’s Office wasted an inordinate amount of time on this fabricated narrative created by the Times in an effort to track down family members of Robert Venable and even provided the paper more than a half dozen former police officers who all corroborated that both Officer Venable and then-Officer Adams were close friends.

After this allegation was disproven, the Times refocused its piece on when a photo was printed. To be clear, Mayor Adams made a photocopy of a photograph of Officer Venable that was printed in an NYPD Transit News Bulletin from November 1987, which Mayor Adams still has possession of to this day and which the Times saw.

“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,” said Press Secretary Fabien Levy. “Mayor Adams, Officer Venable, and a number of other members of the NYPD were close friends before Officer Venable’s murder, and any implication otherwise is patently false. Countless members of the Police Department can verify their friendship that started as two officers who were coming up in the force together, at a time when few Black leaders had positions of power in the Police Department. Over 30 years ago, after Officer Venable’s murder, then-Officer Adams made a copy of a photo published of Officer Venable from an NYPD Transit News Bulletin — a document he still has to this day. For decades, Mayor Adams has carried a picture of his friend who died in the line of duty, and the Times’ efforts to attack the mayor here would be laughable if it were not so utterly offensive.”

Multiple members of Officer Venable’s family today came out to criticize The New York Times’ effort to create a divide between Mayor Adams and the Venable family through these accusations instead of focusing on the truth.

“I was only eight when my father was murdered. I don’t remember most of the people who were there for my family, but in the 36 years since I lost my father, Eric Adams has been there, even after the cameras were gone,” said Januari Venable, daughter of slain NYPD Officer Robert Venable. “Eric personally drove me and my family to Fourth of July fireworks in the past, and when I called him last minute to attend a memorial for my father, the mayor was there. When the mayor met my son at that very memorial, he immediately recognized my dad’s smile. Like I told the Times, if the mayor can do some good by using my father’s story to get more guns off the street, I am happy for him to do so.”

“I didn’t know all of my brother’s friends, but Eric Adams had a wonderful relationship with my mother and was there for my family when it mattered despite The New York Times’ effort to drive a wedge between us,” said Denise Benson, sister of slain NYPD Officer Robert Venable. “For months, the Times has harassed our family and annoyed us persistently, all in an effort to undermine our relationship with Eric, but he has shown up for us over and over again — where has The New York Times been? Our family will not be swayed to give up on my brother’s dedication to community and public service. Even our niece still continues our family’s commitment to community and public service today as an MTA police officer, wearing her uncle’s badge daily to honor his legacy.”

“Eric Adams called and checked on my grandmother often after my uncle was murdered. She was so proud of him, as he earned a master’s degree at night, rose through the ranks of the Police Department, and then became an elected official. She often looked at him and thought he was what my uncle could have become had he not been taken away from us at such a young age,” said Meredith Benson, niece of slain NYPD Officer Robert Venable. “Not only was my uncle a police officer, but my grandmother was a community organizer, and I am a community organizer — public service is in our blood, like it is in the mayor’s. Doesn’t matter if you’re Black, white, Asian, Latino, or any other race, Mayor Adams is working to make New York City safer for everyone and doesn’t have time to waste with a silly story that doesn’t even make any sense. Why would he have to make anything up when he has been there with us since day one?”

Numerous former members of the NYPD also found the Times’ inquiry deplorable and offensive.

“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,” said former NYPD Detective First Grade Sam Calhoun, a former Transit officer with Eric Adams and Robert Venable. “Without question, Eric, Robert, and I were close friends. Without question, Eric was at Bobby’s funeral. And without question, this effort to make up an attack on Eric by a major newspaper is shameful.”

“I was Eric’s former partner for years, and throughout those years, Eric, Bobby, myself, and Bobby’s partner, Bertrand, not only had each other’s backs on the job, but we were there for each other outside of work,” said former Transit Officer Ben Andrews, Eric Adams’ former partner and a former colleague of slain Officer Robert Venable. “Policing was different in the 1980s — we protected each other. We were a family. And The New York Times can’t take that away from us.”

“I was Bobby’s old partner and was with his family the night he was shot. Not only was Eric Adams a friend to us all in the wake of Bobby’s death, but he and his partner, Ben, were friends with Bobby and myself when we all worked in District 2 together,” said former Police Officer Bertrand Bridgeman, slain Officer Robert Venable’s partner and a former Transit officer with Eric Adams.

“Eric and Robert were not only patrol officers together but also friends who also spent time together outside of their patrol assignments. The officers in Transit had a unique camaraderie back then and for The New York Times to try and take that away is an attempt to rewrite our history,” said former NYPD Detective Randolph Blenman, a former Transit officer with Eric Adams and slain Officer Robert Venable.

“I can’t remember how many parties I hosted where Eric, Robert, and our crew hung out late into the night when we were young. No one ever took attendance at a party I hosted, but I know my good friends Eric and Robert were often there hanging out,” said former Transit Officer Charles Henry, a former colleague of Eric Adams and slain Officer Robert Venable. “Our whole crew could always count on one another, and it is preposterous for The New York Times to be making these wild accusations.”

“Yes, of course Eric and Robert were friends. This story is a painful reminder to the mutual colleagues and friends who knew and loved Robert! We should be celebrating the life of a hero, who gave the ultimate sacrifice to keep New York City safe,” said former NYPD Detective Clifton Hollingsworth, Jr., a former Transit Officer with Eric Adams and slain Officer Robert Venable. “The focus should be on building each other up and stop looking for ways to tear each other down!”

“To say The New York Times was grasping at straws would be an understatement. Eric and Robert were friends, and the Times has hit a new low with this attack,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Community Affairs Mark Stewart, a former Transit officer with Eric Adams and slain Officer Robert Venable.

“Eric, Robert, and I all worked in the same job together, and I know how Robert’s death impacted all of us. We were all close, despite what The New York Times may want to imply. No one had to make that up,” said former Transit Officer Kenneth Hodges, a former colleague of Eric Adams and slain Officer Robert Venable.

“Anyone who was at Bobby’s funeral, or simply knew him, had access to plenty of old photos of him. There was never a need for Eric to concoct a story about his relationship with Bobby or ask to create a photo, because he actually had a real relationship with our fallen brother,” said former NYPD Detective Tony Barksdale, a former Transit officer and former colleague of Eric Adams and slain Officer Robert Venable. “This sensational story is nothing that New Yorkers care about and does even less to make us safer.”


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