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City Crime Hits Close to Home for Mayor Bloomberg

By Murray Weiss | December 3, 2010 11:03am
Mayor Michael Bloomberg rides the subway. A member of his security detail has been charged with shooting a rival in a lover's triangle.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg rides the subway. A member of his security detail has been charged with shooting a rival in a lover's triangle.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

By Murray Weiss

DNAinfo Contributing Columnist

If Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants further evidence of a rise in crime in New York City, he need look no further than to the strapping NYPD detective who helped guard him for the past three years.

Det. Leopold McLean, with the chiseled physique of a football player (he's on the NYPD's gridiron team) and a spotless 17-year record on the force, seemed like the perfect cop to be selected for the elite squad in the Intelligence Division that protects the mayor.

But every man has an Achilles heel. In McLean's case, it was a girlfriend who had another boyfriend, a man who court documents showed had a penchant for stalking, abusing and hitting her.

McLean, 46, met his girlfriend, a personal trainer, around the same time he began working in Bloomberg’s detail. He apparently knew she had had previous physical encounters with the other man, Lepaul Gammons.

On Nov. 12, McLean and Gammons crossed paths at the woman's home in Queens. The mere appearance of Gammons placed him in violation of an order of protection. Court documents and sources describe what apparently happened next.

McLean confronted Gammons and allegedly pulled out his weapon.

"Are you going to shoot me?" Gammons asked.

The detective answered. "I have something for you," he said.

Gammons turned and ran for his life.

There were a number of things McLean could have done. He could have called 911. He could have tried to arrest Gammons. But he let his passion overtake all his common sense and training.

He squeezed off a shot.

The 9mm Kahr Luger slug tore through Gammons' hip and came out the top of his leg just as he was scaling a fence and scampering off behind a building.

McLean summoned police. There was no mention of a gun shot or a wounded Gammons. There was only a tale about Gammons stalking McLean's girlfriend and violating an order of protection. His girlfriend said something about a burglary with a knife, but none was recovered.

Gammons was now a hunted man. Detectives raced to his home and hit his usual haunts.

"No one knows he has been shot. He is scared to death," a source said. "First he violated on order of protection. Then he an elite detective tried to kill him. He did not know who to turn to, and trusted no one. He was terrified."

And a hospital would report the gunshot wound to the cops. So he decided to tough it out, asking friends for "street medicine": pills to fight infection, peroxide and gauze. That lasted a couple of agonizing days. Finally, he decided to turn to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which investigates complaints about NYPD excessive force.

The CCRB contacted Internal Affairs, and finally the wounded Gammons came in from the cold.

It now was the first time anyone heard about a shooting. Investigators quickly found a slug from McLean's gun in front of 119-26 153 St. And they instantly knew Gammons was not the only man whose passions got the better of him that night.

They spoke to McLean and his handlers. There was talk about a struggle and firing in self defense. It would have been better had he called 911 right away. But video was later recovered. It literally shows McLean firing at the fleeing Gammons, sources say.

So McLean, the detective with the perfect record who used to walk alongside Mayor Bloomberg, became the subject of a "perp walk," and was charged with attempted murder.

He may in the end be lucky. If his bullet had struck Gammons an inch higher in his back, Gammons likely would be dead.

And Bloomberg’s rising murder rate would have another killing linked to domestic violence.