NEW YORK — A man charged with trying to hire a hit man to behead the city's police commissioner is mentally ill, and his threats were nothing more than talk, his attorney said.
Penniless, dependent on a wheelchair and already in jail, suspect David Brown was not "in any position to harm anyone — certainly not the police commissioner," his lawyer, Justina Olderman, told reporters.
"There is absolutely no indication that this was anything other than mere words," she said.
Brown was charged with trying to hire a contract killer for $65,000 to decapitate Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and bomb police headquarters.
"I want people to feel my wrath and my rage," Brown told an undercover officer, according to court papers.
Brown, 47, was arrested Monday on a charge of second-degree criminal solicitation. Authorities say he spoke about wanting to avenge the shooting by undercover detectives of an unarmed New York City man, Sean Bell, on his wedding day.
"I am very angry over Sean Bell and other cases like that," he allegedly said a taped conversation.
Though it appeared Brown didn't have the means to carry out his scheme, authorities said they had to take the threat seriously.
"I think this person clearly needs psychiatric help," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Brown, who was already behind bars at Rikers Island prison on an unrelated charge, asked an unidentified man to contact someone who was willing to undertake the contract killing, police said. That led to the undercover officer contacting Brown, who promised to pay $15,000 for the hit and another $50,000 for the bombing.
In November, five officers fired 50 shots at a car driven by Bell, 23, around the corner from a topless club. The officers have said they believed the victim and two friends were going to retrieve a gun to settle a dispute outside the club, but no weapon was found.
A grand jury is considering possible charges against the five officers involved.
Brown was convicted in 2001 of trying to kill his wife and served about five years. He was behind bars in Rikers for violation of an order of protection for the same woman, authorities said.