NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio was furious Thursday, after revelations that attorneys with The Bronx Defenders, a city-funded legal-aid organization, participated in a rap video advocating the killings of police officers.
As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, the video has made Mayor Bill de Blasio's temper flare up. He wants disciplinary action against a group of public defenders who helped in making the video. The mayor spelled it out in an exclusive interview.
"If any of the employees are doing something that goes against all of our values -- that suggests something horrible -- violence against police - there have to be real consequences," de Blasio said.
The film was released in December, just two weeks before the murders of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
"There can be nothing that suggests any violence towards officers," de Blasio said. "That's absolutely unacceptable. It's heinous. It's reprehensible. It can't happen."
CBS2 Exclusive: De Blasio Slams City-Funded Legal Group Over Rap Video Advocating Cop Killings
Mark G. Peters, commissioner of the city's Department of Investigation, announced the earlier Thursday that the public defenders had participated in the video, and referred the findings to the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice and the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York for possible action.
The video, "Hands Up" by Uncle Murda and Maino, was posted online in December and shows the two rappers pointing guns at the head of a man playing the role of a police officer. It also includes the lyrics "For Mike Brown and Sean Bell, a cop got to get killed" and "Time to start killing these coppers."
The city investigation found that attorneys – their salaries paid for with city tax dollars – participated in the video and allowed The Bronx Defenders' offices to be used in the filming despite knowing the song's message. The Bronx public defenders who appeared were identified as Kumar Rao and Ryan Napoli.
"Attorneys at The Bronx Defenders were sending emails with the lyrics of the video – including lyrics calling for the killing of police officers – and their email comments were, quote, 'I love this song,'" Peters said.
And as WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported, The Bronx Defenders' executive director, Robin Steinberg, failed to discipline employees after learning about their conduct and gave misleading statements to city officials about the organization's involvement, according to the investigation findings.
WARNING: Video includes explicit language and violent imagery.
"Advocating the killing of police officers is unacceptable and offensive," Peters said in a news release. "These attorneys have abysmally failed to meet their obligations to their clients, to the courts and to the city as a whole."
Investigation Finds City-Funded Legal Group Participated In Rap Video Advocating Cop Killings
Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, called for the city to shut down The Bronx Defenders and to seek the disbarment of the lawyers involved.
"They not only knew the lyrics, they knew where the artists were trying to go in this anti-police atmosphere -- and yet, they still appeared in it, they advocated for it, and they used their offices," Lynch told CBS2's Aiello.
In a statement, Lynch continued: "There has always been adequate numbers of lawyers who are willing and able to represent the indigent and who do not harbor ill will against police officers. The city should also seek to recoup any tax dollars that were used by the Bronx Defenders during their participation in the making of this immoral, horrendous video."
The Bronx Defenders get about $20 million a year from the city to represent poor people charged with crimes. A spokeswoman said management did not see the video in advance and "deeply regret any involvement with this video."
The report said the board of directors of The Bronx Defenders has told the DOI that they plan to suspend Rao, Napoli and Sterling for 30 days without pay, demote Rao and Napoli, hire a new director of communications, require board approval for future media projects, and create a new communications protocol.
The DOI said it offers no opinion as to whether those actions were enough.
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