Shortly after the vest vanished, the embattled head of the unit, Inspector Howard Redmond, got into a heated argument with Sgt. Paul Briscoe, who had loaned the equipment for use in the performance.
Briscoe argued that a police report should be filed and threatened to go to Internal Affairs, according to the source. No report was ever filed, NYPD spokesman Phil Walzak confirmed.
“It was not reported at the time because all evidence suggested the vest was misplaced, not stolen, and would be found shortly after the event,” Walzak said. The mayor’s office declined comment.
The awkward skit featuring Michael K. Williams — reprising his role as Omar — and de Blasio was part of the 2016 Inner Circle show — a clubby tradition where members of the press, the mayor and City Hall staffers roast each other in corny sketches and musical acts.
The skit began with de Blasio doing a light workout routine when Omar pays a visit, wearing the authentic blue bullet-proof vest. The mayor then awkwardly offers a job to the criminal character — best known for his strict moral code, sawed-off shotgun and Robin Hood-like presence in Baltimore’s west side projects.
Before he exited, stage left, Williams recited his signature line, “You come at the king, you best not miss.”
A rep for Williams did not respond to an inquiry.
The police source said that Redmond and Briscoe “almost came to blows” in the basement of City Hall over the missing vest.
“They really got into it,” the source said. “They were cursing.”
But another source close to the EPU disputed that account, insisting “there was no altercation. No voice raising and no shoving.” That source argued City Hall staff, not the actor, was to blame so there was no reason for Redmond and Briscoe to beef.
“That’s not on (Williams) to safeguard it. That was (de Blasio’s) staff that requested the vest through Redmond. It’s their responsibility to secure it," the source said.
Briscoe declined comment. He was transferred out of the unit and retired last year. Multiple sources close to the EPU have said he was sacrificed amid growing tumult in the unit.
The first acts of the Inner Circle are written and performed by journalists, followed by scenes put on by the mayor. Redmond also borrowed two real NYPD uniforms for the mayor’s 2016 performance, according to the police source. They were worn by staffers posing as cops who were breaking up mascots, desnudas and other Times Square buskers during a musical rendition.
That year’s revue, titled “Shamilton,” is one de Blasio would likely rather forget.
Then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appeared in a spoof about de Blasio’s chronic tardiness and why the mayor took so long to endorse her. De Blasio jokingly attributed the delay to “CP Time,” which he said stood for “cautious politician time." The joke, which alluded to “colored people time,” bombed. Even President Barack Obama ripped de Blasio.
The vest caper is the latest in a long line of embarrassing episodes for the mayor’s troubled security detail. Six members of the unit have filed discrimination lawsuits alleging the unit is highly politicized and that desirable assignments and promotions were given to white, young cops in Redmond’s favor.
The discord in the EPU also allegedly resulted in fights. A retired sergeant told The News that the second-in-command of the unit, Lt. Karl Pfeffer, had drunkenly yelled and shoved him at Gracie Mansion — and that Redmond covered it up.
The NYPD said it closed a “thorough” probe of the incident last year after finding it was “unsubstantiated” and no one was disciplined. A police official said Internal Affairs investigators were unable to examine video of the incident because it had been destroyed — but The News then published the footage in April.
The News also exclusively reported earlier this year that the security detail covered up a car crash in which de Blasio was a passenger to protect the mayor from embarrassing headlines as he pushed for Vision Zero street safety measures. A police report showed that de Blasio’s vehicle was driving the wrong way when the crash occurred in 2015.