NYC M.E. Rules Against Another 9/11 Responder
PBA President Furious Over Ruling On James Godbee

CBS | November 26, 2007

NEW YORK (CBS) - There was outrage Monday night over another controversial ruling by New York City's Medical Examiner.

Some say the ruling disrespects yet another first responder who worked on the debris pile at ground zero.

The family and friends of police officer James Godbee are furious.

"This is ridiculous, an outrage," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch said.

Lynch was speaking for many Monday in his fury at City Medical Examiner Charles Hirsch, who refuses to say a hero cop who died of lung disease after working for hundreds of hours at ground zero was a 9/11 homicide.

The reason? Godbee started work on Sept. 13.

"This medical examiner once again proves that he's looking at this from a litigation standpoint rather than a right and wrong standpoint," Lynch said.

In a letter to Godbee's widow, Michelle, Hirsch wrote:

"We must adhere to the principle that fatalities caused by work related or inhalation of dust are classified as natural deaths."

Lawyer Michael Barasch represents Det. James Zadroga, another 9/11 hero cop who died of lung disease. He says it doesn't make any difference once you started to breathe the toxic dust at ground zero

"The building was burning for 99 days," Barasch said. "You were breathing the exact same air

Lynch and Barasch say Hirsch has too much power, and that a blue ribbon commission should be set up to review each ground zero first responder death. Mayor Michael Bloomberg disagrees.

"This city is lucky as I said to have Dr. Hirsch," Bloomberg said. "He is scrupulously honest and has nothing to do with politics. Having a blue ribbon commission just says lets decide based on political reasons."

A spokesman for the medical examiner refused to comment, saying that the letter speaks for itself.

The mayor did praise officer Godbee, saying he was "exactly the kind of police officer you want in this city."

He said the 9/11 Memorial Commission, which he chairs, should find a way to recognize 9/11 responders.