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Officer Kills Three While Driving Under the Influence

Aired August 20, 2001 - 12:04   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We Want to take you now to a news conference in New York city. This is officer Joseph Gray, he is the man accused of killing three members of the same family in a DWI accident.

That is -- I believe that is him. Let's just go ahead and listen to what he has to say.

QUESTION: Before you had your day in court?

JOSEPH GRAY, OFFICER, N.Y.P.D.: Well, obviously I don't think it's fair. I think I deserve my day in court like everybody else would have. I don't think there should be a rush to judgment on behalf of the department.

QUESTION: Have you gotten any expressions of support from any of your colleagues in the department?

GRAY: I can't comment on that. I don't want to get anybody in trouble?

QUESTION: Have you got any friends? Have friends called you up to say anything?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without naming names.

GRAY: Well, without naming name, yes, I've received tremendous support at home, and my family has received tremendous support.

QUESTION: What about the PBA? Are you disappointed in the union? They don't seem to be standing with you on this.

GRAY: I think because of the recent lawsuit that they had settled, I think they're afraid to get involved with anything of this nature.

QUESTION: Officer, do you feel abandoned by them?

GRAY: I wouldn't call it abandoned, but I obviously feel that there's more that there's more that they could do to help me out.

QUESTION: Officer Gray, what would you say to the community at large given what has happened? A lot of people are -- have lost trust with the police department. What would you say to them? GRAY: In my whole career I've always felt that a whole community shouldn't blame the police department for the actions of one or more individuals. It's not -- you know they're the most dedicated group of people in the world, this New York city Police Department. And they shouldn't be judged by the actions of one person.

QUESTION: Officer Gray, can you tell us a little bit more about why you believe -- is this larger than previously thought? Alcohol and substance abuse problems at N.Y.P.D., what is it about the job that drives people to drink?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd rather not get into that, because then that touches upon what he did or didn't do, and I don't want to get into that.

QUESTION: Officer Gray, have you had an opportunity to at least reach out to this family, and if so, would you like to say anything at this point to the victims' family?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's already said it, and I've said it before. I've said it to the media, and I'd be happy to say it again.

QUESTION: Mr. Gray...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you the truth. This comes from him, it doesn't come from me, this comes from him and his family.

QUESTION: Who's decision was it to...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me answer that question first.

GRAY: Like I've said before, I want to express my sincerest condolences to the Pena and Herrera families on behalf of myself and my family.

QUESTION: How hard has it been on you since the incident happened? How you can cope? I assume it's been very difficult?

GRAY: It's been very hard, but I have a loving wife. My mother and father, you know, are there for me. My whole family's been behind me to help me out, and it's only with their help.

QUESTION: Could you tell us what you've been doing, sir, since that time? Are you staying home, are you able to -- can you go out, have you been going somewhere or talking to people? Tell us a little bit about your days?

GRAY: I've been spending time with my parish priest and with my family.

QUESTION: And the decision to talk, was that your decision?

GRAY: Yes.

QUESTION: When was it made?

GRAY: Just recently.

QUESTION: Was there one thing that caused to you say, I want to talks, even though there is a risk involved?

GRAY: I just think it's important that people see who I am, not what I've been portrayed as in the media.

QUESTION: Officer Gray, what's been inaccurate about the way you've been portrayed? What is it that people don't see that might change the way this case is viewed?

GRAY: Some of the things I've read are like totally without -- I mean I'm home every day to take care of my children. I have a daughter that was in preschool up until June, at home every day to take her to school, to pick her up, drop her off, take my wife to works, because she, obviously, living in New York City, she has to work also. I'm there for my kids, and anybody who needed help around the house, I was always there for them.

I'm not this mindless drunk that was being portrayed in the media. That really, really hurt me.

QUESTION: Do you think you have a drinking problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you there'll be no questions like that, please.

QUESTION: Are you concerned at all by the reaction in the police department, after -- in terms of all of the disciplinary action?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you mean the other police officers? You mean of the other officer, that were transferred or fired?

QUESTION: Yes. Do you have any feelings about how the police department reacted to that, or -- well again, but in terms of...

GRAY: Yes. In my career I've seen it time and time again, that the brass in the police department always overreacts to anything that can cause any kind of negative publicity to the department. And, of course, I feel that they've overreacted in this case.

QUESTION: Do you think that you've been singled out because of the high publicity, that they've targeted you when, as your attorney says, he's never seen other cases where they've gone somebody before a criminal case?

GRAY: Well, it looks that way because it's been the front page in the news -- for the first week that it happened, it was in the front page almost every day. It was a headline story on the evening news. So yes, of course I feel that way.

QUESTION: Officer Gray, have you internalized the fact that your law enforcement career may be over, considering what the N.Y.P.D. is trying to do?

GRAY: Yes, I have. QUESTION: And is that fair, is it unfair? What does it do to your sense of self-worth?

GRAY: Well, I obviously believe I should get my day in court before the department takes any action. But, my career is over, it's over, that's it. I'll find something else to do.

QUESTION: What does being a cop mean to you?

GRAY: Well, at one time it meant everything, but there are other things I can do after my career is over.

QUESTION: You are ready to move on?

GRAY: Yes, I am.

KAGAN: We've been listening in on an incredible news conference out of New York City. That is officer Joseph Gray, unusual that a man facing serious charges like himself to hold a news conference at this point in the legal proceedings.

Officer Gray facing a number of charges, including three manslaughter charges. The idea is that he basically, allegedly mowed down three members of the same family a couple week ago. The family members: Maria Herrera, she was eight months pregnant, that baby died as well; her four-year-old son Andy, and her sister all died in the accident.

And now officer Joseph Gray, formerly of the New York Police Department, facing manslaughter charges, holding that news conference today, and talking about a number of issues, including sending his condolences to the Pena and Herrera families.