As expected, the Queens GOP leaders voted unanimously Sunday to give Joe Murray their party line in November’s general election for Queens district attorney. Murray, a former NYPD police officer turned Queens Boulevard defense attorney, is a registered Democrat who will face Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
“He was the only one presented, and yes, the vote was unanimous as was the vote for the Wilson-Pakula Law to be authorized,” Queens Republican Chairwoman Joan Ariola said. “That paperwork has already been filed with the Board of Elections, so yes, Joe is our nominee.”
Murray was a supporter of Judge Greg Lasak during the Democratic primary campaign and was disappointed when Lasak came in third place after serving 25 years as a top prosecutor on the Queens district attorney’s office before leaving to serve 12 years on the Queens Supreme Court Bench.
“To see him lose to Melinda Katz was tough,” Murray said. “She’s a career politician with no criminal court experience so I’m hearing from a lot of people who are relieved that someone with my background is stepping in to face her. People are nervous about her stance on closing Rikers Island and not wanting to prosecute low level offenders and they’re worried that the city is slipping back to what it was back in the ’80s and ’90s. I was a cop, and I remember what that was like, and we don’t want to go back there.”
Now 52, Murray spent much of his 15 years with the NYPD with the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights as well as the Queens North Task Force in Flushing. Murray grew up in Howard Beach and currently resides in Bellerose.
“I hear from people that Katz has been a good borough president, she did a lot of good things in the Rockaways and Jamaica, and I say good, let her do it for another couple of years then,” Murray said with a laugh. “I also hear from people who have heard my story and they’re very impressed.”
In 1993, he was arrested while on duty and in uniform and charged with felony assault after breaking the jaw of another on duty NYPD officer at Manhattan’s 10th Precinct.
“He threw the first punch and I was a little bit better, I was the heavyweight on the NYPD boxing team,” Murray recalled. “I didn’t mean to bust his jaw.”
A grand jury failed to indict Murray but the NYPD still sought to terminate him. He retained the services of famed attorney, Bruce Cutler, who negotiated a plea which allowed Murray to accept a suspension for the department charges without admitting any guilt.
Murray was still being civilly sued by the injured officer.
“By that time I was flat broke after the attorney’s fees and a divorce,” Murray said. “So I represented myself in Manhattan Supreme Court and after a two-week trial I won and the judge, God love her, she told me I should go to law school.”
Murray had followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the NYPD at age 20 so he didn’t have a college degree, so he went to Queens College and then to CUNY Law School.
“The response I’ve gotten in the last two weeks has been incredible,” Murray said. “I was contacted by a woman who was just so impressed by my story, she didn’t even ask about my platform. She had worked on Tiffany Cabán’s campaign and said she would campaign for me in Forest Hills saying anyone’s better than Katz and I can assure you there is a very clear difference between us. I don’t care about endorsements I just want to get in front of people and tell my story. I’m a likable guy and you’re going to get the truth out of me because I don’t pander.”
Murray has opened a campaign bank account and is taking office space near his law firm that sits across Queens Boulevard from the Queens district attorney’s office in Kew Gardens.
“Look, I know this is going to be a sprint, but I’ve got ten weeks to get my story out there,” Murray said. “And most importantly I have 10 weeks to explain to people that I know what a district attorney’s office does.”