The family of a fallen officer is breaking three decades of silence to defend New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who is under scrutiny, partly over a comment he made in a Turn to Tara special last year on gun violence.
In Adams’ interview with Tara Rosenblum, he talked about the painful loss of officers William Mora and Jason Rivera, recalling the personal pain of losing his former colleague Robert Venable and sharing the photo that he says he always has with him.
"You know, I carry around a picture of Robert Venable, my close friend that was shot several years ago, when during my early days of policing. And I always have Robert's picture. The pain never dissipates," he had told Rosenblum during the 2022 interview. Now, the New York Times is reporting that his claims may be untrue.
Following the interview, the Turn To Tara team made a request to the mayor's press team to send News 12 the picture of his fallen comrade. The picture that was sent has now become the target of intense scrutiny.
Photo of Officer Robert Venable provided to News 12 by the office of New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
The New York Times article questions whether that picture spent decades in his wallet or landed there after News 12's interview.
Unnamed sources in the report allege City Hall workers were directed to fake an old picture by printing it out in black and white and splashing coffee on it.
In response, Adams team admitted to making a photocopy of an old picture from a police bulletin but said that the article depicted a "fabricated narrative."
A spokesman also alleged the Times was initially working on a story suggesting Adams and Venable were never friends.
A relative of the fallen officer says this claim is false, and decided to speak out for the first time publicly.
"They were going to take a trip together before he died," says Meredith Benson, the niece of Venable.
Meredith Benson was only 14 when she lost her favorite uncle.
"He served as my dad growing up. So, he was my uncle-father," says Benson. "He was supposed to be here to watch me get married and to go to college. He never got to see me do any of those things. And so, I have a son who is now 25 and my son is named after him." Benson told News 12 her entire family struggled after Venable's death, too.
She says that Adams was there to support them long after the cameras stopped rolling.
"The reporter who contacted our family, I told her specifically, 'Is Eric helping to decrease crime in New York City?' 'Yes' Then that's what this is about. He used my uncle's story, his relationship with my uncle to highlight gun violence. And that's what he should be highlighting. And for you to try to use my uncle's legacy to discredit him is ridiculous," she says.
The mayor's office says Adams remains focused on the heavy toll gun violence continues to take on the city.
"All I can do is commit myself to prevent it, either eradicate or alleviate the level of violence that we're witnessing in our city," he says.
The mayor's office released a response that said, in part, "While yesterday’s initial inquiry mentioned a photo, the crux of this request and all initial questions in writing focused on the Times’ claim that there was no real relationship between the two former officers...After this allegation was disproven, the Times refocused its piece on when a photo was printed. To be clear, Mayor Adams made a photocopy of a photograph of Officer Venable that was printed in an NYPD Transit News Bulletin from November 1987, which Mayor Adams still has possession of to this day and which the Times saw."