According to a new report, the photograph of a deceased New York City police officer that Mayor Eric Adams claims he has carried for years was taken in 2017.
According to The New York Times, the photo was created by municipal employees on city time and altered to appear aged.
Officer Robert Venable, a black NYPD officer, was mentioned by Adams in January 2022, following the murders of two NYPD officers in Harlem.
“I still think about Robert. I keep a picture of Robert in my wallet,” he said.
Adams subsequently displayed to the media a photograph he claimed to have carried for years, but which the Times claimed was created by City Hall employees in response to his remark.
The Times report said “The employees were instructed to create a photo of Officer Venable, according to a person familiar with the request. A picture of the officer was found on Google; it was printed in black-and-white and made to look worn as if the mayor had been carrying it for some time, including by splashing some coffee on it.”
The Times stated that its source was a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution and that two unnamed City Hall aides said they were aware of the phony photo.
Adams representative Fabien Levy stated that the photo displayed to the media was new, but that Adams had carried a photo of Venable for years.
Adams told the Times that the photograph was “always in my wallet until it got too bulky,” adding that he now keeps it in a money clip.
“He was a very dear friend and it keeps me committed,” he said.
Januari Venable, the daughter of Venable, stated that she had never met Adams before this year and was astonished by the mayor’s claim.
“All I can say is that as far as being in his wallet or not, the fact that people still think of my dad all these years later — whatever the meaning behind it — it makes me thankful that he’s not being forgotten,” she said.
According to the New York Post, she said something different in a statement from the mayor’s office.
“I was only eight when my father was murdered. I don’t remember most of the people who were there for my family, but in the 36 years since I lost my father, Eric Adams has been there, even after the cameras were gone,” she said in the statement.
“Eric personally drove me and my family to Fourth of July fireworks in the past, and when I called him at the last minute to attend a memorial for my father, the mayor was there,” she said in the statement.
Meredith Benson, the niece of Venable, expressed doubt about the Times report.
“I can’t see him doing that because he had an actual relationship with my family,” she said.
“If he needed a story, he had a story, right? He could just say ‘I was very close to, you know, Rob’s mother and supported her through his death and supported the family’ because that is 100 percent complete and true,” she said.
Levy fired back against the story after it was published, saying, “It is disgusting that The New York Times has chosen to have Robert Venable’s friends and family relive the tragic murder of a loved one for nothing more than feeding its obsession with dissecting every single moment of Mayor Adams’ life,” according to the New York Daily News.
“Over 30 years ago, after Officer Venable’s murder, then-Officer Adams made a copy of a photo published of Officer Venable from an NYPD Transit News Bulletin — a document he still has to this day. For decades, Mayor Adams has carried a picture of his friend who died in the line of duty,” he said.
A representative of the Times then said Adams and his aides “don’t deny the story’s main point: that the photo he showed to reporters and claimed to have carried for decades was made by aides, who took steps to age its appearance.”