A Justice Department lawyer refused yesterday to watch a harrowing video of two New York City auxiliary cops being murdered – even though Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said it proved they were heroes who deserve federal recognition, reports the New York Daily News. Hearing officer Inez Haller also declined to listen to chilling 911 tapes from the night auxiliaries Eugene Marshalik and Nicholas Pekearo were gunned down by a madman in Greenwich Village. The tapes were to be the centerpiece of Kelly’s presentation at a hearing on the Justice Department’s decision to deny death benefits to Marshalik and Pekearo’s loved ones.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to overturn the denial of more than $300,000 in benefits for each family. Schumer spoke with Domingo Harraiz, head of the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, whose chief of staff, Hope Janke, rejected the claims. She argued that because the auxiliaries can’t make formal arrests, they aren’t law enforcement officers entitled to federal payouts for line-of-duty deaths. Said Kelly: “It’s a hypertechnical interpretation. Every citizen has arrest powers. You can arrest for a felony in any crime that takes place in your presence.”