Readers sound off on Jan. 6 police deaths, De Niro’s outburst and Bill Walton’s career

Cops who died after Jan. 6 died due to that day

Manhattan: To help set a sad record straight about deaths and injuries suffered by five police officers in connection with Jan. 6: One Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, died of multiple strokes that occurred hours after his confrontation with the protesters. Coincidence? The medical examiner didn’t think so, noting, “All that transpired played a role in his condition.” Officer Jeffrey Smith of the Metropolitan Police Department, a mentally stable person who received a blow to his head during the riot, began exhibiting symptoms he never showed before and died by suicide nine days later. Another officer, Howard S. Liebengood of the Capitol Police, also died by suicide just three days after the attack.

A month after the release of a bipartisan report in June 2021, two additional officers from the Metropolitan Police Department who had also interacted with the rioters on that day, Gunther Hashida and Kyle DeFreytag, died by suicide as well.

Moreover, among the estimated 140 officers injured on that day, Michael Fanone testified that he was assaulted, beaten and shocked repeatedly with a stun device. He also reported that several people in the crowd reached for his firearm and some yelled to kill him with his own weapon. This leaves out all the trauma, physical and otherwise, suffered by hundreds of civilians and workers, including one of the people involved in the storming of the Capitol, Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a police officer as she was attempting to climb through a broken window.

Any effort to downplay or dismiss such loss of life is as big a lie as the one that fueled the riot in the first place. Denise Fortino

Judicial immunity?

Bronx: There is already a federal law on the books that requires justices and judges to recuse themselves from hearing cases in which they have a conflict of interest or the appearance of such a conflict: 28 U.S. Code § 455 — disqualification of justice, judge, or magistrate judge. The law does not exempt Supreme Court justices. Why isn’t this law being applied to the conflicts of interest of Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas regarding cases involving the Jan. 6 insurrection and the question of immunity for former President Donald Trump? Are justices truly above the law? Miriam Levine Helbok

Familiar hyperbole

Englewood, N.J.: It is so ludicrous that Trump’s lawyer called Michael Cohen the “greatest liar of all time.” Everyone knows that title belongs to Trump. Every word out of his mouth is a lie. He is incapable of telling the truth. Irene Dikranian

Spoke the truth

Wilmington, Del.: I can’t thank Robert De Niro enough (“De Niro, MAGA slapdown,” May 29). Mr. De Niro, please keep up that drumbeat. The presidency is actually not enough for Trump — he wants to be king of the world (a la Leonardo DiCaprio in “Titanic”). If you put a gun to his daughter’s head and said, “Don, you can be president for as long as you like, but in exchange we’re taking out your kid,” Trump would say, “Go ahead.” Trump cares nothing for this country. All he cares about is himself, and all his life he’s gotten away with it, saying whatever, regardless of truth, doing whatever, regardless of legality. I am a conservative and not a Joe Biden fan, but Biden is not a threat to the world. De Niro said it best: Trump is a threat to the world. John Lewis

Irrelevant opinion

Brooklyn: Who asked or cares what Robert De Niro says about anything? He should be making tampon or toilet paper commercials. He’s washed up. Ruined his whole legacy, if he had one. Joe Many

Speak out

Hallandale, Fla.: What Israel has continued to perpetrate in Gaza is so reprehensible, so flagrant and so dehumanizing, with our own government wholly complicit. Only a massive outpouring of protest by Americans with even a modest amount of morality, principles and rectitude can help end the purported genocide. I have written numerous times to the Biden administration and the Israeli government in vehement protest. I have enumerated their indiscriminate shelling of civilians in a walled prison with no chance of escape, laying waste to most of Gaza’s infrastructure, including refugee camps, hospitals and ambulances, targeting women and children even at close range, killing many journalists and humanitarian workers, along with cessations of food and medical aid. The list of atrocities appears endless in Gaza and the West Bank. I urge you to make your voice heard. You can search contact addresses for both Israel and the U.S. through the internet and social media. Sid Sussman

Murderous message

Milwaukee: I saw the photos of former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley signing artillery shells in Israel. She wrote, “Finish Them! America (heart) Israel Always, Nikki Haley.” Notably, citing the “immediate risk” to Palestinians, the International Court of Justice, the UN’s top court, has ordered Israel to immediately halt its assault on Rafah. As I think of Hamas’ horrific crimes on Oct. 7 and the immense suffering of the residents of Gaza, I am reminded of the words of Tracy Kidder from his book “Mountains Beyond Mountains”: “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” Terry Hansen

Cleanup crew

Bronx: I live right near Pelham Bay Park and go several times a week. The park workers do a wonderful job of keeping the park clean. I went right after the Memorial Day weekend, when many people picnicked there. As I expected, the park was immaculate. I appreciate the work these people do. Dorothy Krasiker

Concrete jungle

Elmira, N.Y.: Ever wonder why New Yorkers continue to leave NYC? Look no further than the destruction of the Elizabeth Street Garden in favor of more housing in concrete and steel. Ironically, the city had no overhead for the lot and actually received rent for it. Just another nail in the coffin. Where are the greenspace advocates today? Christopher Denton

Walk the beat

Staten Island: I would like to know if Mayor Adams has considered putting police officers on foot patrol. There has to be a solution to all of this violent crime. I also do not believe that crime is down. When I watch a news program or read a newspaper, there is always a report on violent crime. Also, the mayor could ask the officers for their input on the crime problem. What about the two- and three-star chiefs and their information on how to reduce crime? Enough of saying crime is down. Get every available officer out on the streets and attack high-crime areas to see the high numbers drop. Jeffrey Van Pelt

Basketball Bill

Hallandale Beach, Fla.: Bill Walton was truly one of a kind. As a Hall of Fame player, he redefined the center position. His unique all-around skills made him a dominant force at UCLA and led to an NBA regular season and finals MVP, two NBA championships, and a spot on the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams. Bill then translated his infectious enthusiasm and love for the game to broadcasting, where he delivered insightful and colorful commentary, with which he entertained generations of basketball fans. But what I will remember most about him was his zest for life. He was a regular presence at league events — always upbeat, smiling ear to ear, and looking to share his wisdom and warmth. As a chartered member of the NBA family for 50 years, Bill will be deeply missed by all those who came to know and love him. My heartfelt condolences to Bill’s wife, Lori, his sons, Adam, Nate, Luke and Chris, and his many friends and colleagues. Paul Bacon

Priestly orientation

Rosedale: So what if a priest is gay? Once he enters priesthood, he vows celibacy. I don’t see the problem there. Predatory behavior from priests, as we have seen come to light in recent years, is a behavior that does not care what your sexual orientation is. Amen. MaryBeth Pepe

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