N.Y. Mayor Miffed At Wallace Bust

Veteran "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace, shown in New York May 1, 2004, was handcuffed and driven to a police station Tuesday night, Aug. 10, 2004, after arguing with city inspectors over where his driver had parked. The dispute began at about 8:30 p.m., as Wallace was leaving a Manhattan restaurant, WCBS-TV reported. (AP Photo/Jennifer Graylock)
AP
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is unhappy with the arrest of veteran 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace, 86, by a pair of city taxi inspectors. He promised an investigation into the incident.

"Why a man in his 80s was so threatening that they had to arrest him when they normally don't arrest anybody certainly gives you cause to ask the question," Bloomberg said. "Why he'd have to be handcuffed and led away, or whatever happened, I don't know, but you can rest assured we will be looking into it."

A spokesman for the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission, the agency the inspectors work for, confirmed that an investigation is under way.

Wallace was handcuffed, taken to a police station and arrested on a disorderly conduct charge following a verbal exchange with the two inspectors.

"All I can tell you is it was a misunderstanding. They were a trifle arrogant," Wallace told John Slattery of WCBS-TV.

The dispute began at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, as Wallace was leaving Luke's Restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side, where he had picked up a take-out order of meatloaf.

[In its Thursday editions, the New York Post gave the meatloaf a lukewarm review, awarding the dish 2-1/2 handcuffs out of a possible four.]

Wallace saw two Taxi and Limousine Commission inspectors talking to his driver, who they said was double-parked outside the restaurant.

The newsman denied being disorderly.

"I said, 'What are you doing with the driver?' [The inspectors replied] 'Get back in the car!' 'Get back in the car!' And all of a sudden they had my arms behind me and they were cuffing me," Wallace said.

The TLC said Wallace approached the inspectors and became "overly assertive and disrespectful," interfering with their ability to perform their duties.

The inspectors then asked him to step away from the car and Wallace refused, lunging at one of the inspectors, according to the TLC.

"I find it difficult to lunge into bed," Wallace countered.

The other inspector then handcuffed Wallace and drove him to the NYPD's 19th precinct headquarters, where he was issued the summons charging him with disorderly conduct.

Wallace laughed off the notion that he had threatened either inspector.

"I'm an 86-year-old man," he told the New York Post. "For whatever reason, this guy and his buddy were intent upon telling me that I was interfering with the execution of the law."

Luigi Militello, the manager of the restaurant, told WCBS that the inspectors "manhandled" Wallace during the dispute.

Another witness, Ernesto Cazalli, said that Wallace was "swung by his shirt against his own car and handled quite vigorously."

In a related development, Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, said the incident provides a small glimpse into what cab drivers have to deal with every day.

"If Mike Wallace was Hispanic or black, he would have spent the night at Rikers (jail). These inspectors have been out of control for a long time," he said.

Wallace is due in court in October.

Wallace has been with CBS since the 1950s and on its flagship 60 Minutes newsmagazine since its inception in 1968.