Leo A. Brooks, city managing director

Brooks (center) meets with Commissioners Sambor and Richmond on May 13, 1985.
Brooks (center) meets with Commissioners Sambor and Richmond on May 13, 1985. (Michele Tranquilli)
Posted: May 06, 2010

MANAGING DIRECTOR Leo A. Brooks, a retired Army brigadier general, was tapped to supervise and coordinate the city’s assault on the MOVE compound.

1985: In a May 7 meeting, Mayor Goode explicitly gave Brooks, now 77, supervisory responsibility for the development of the police plan. Goode told him to ensure that the children were removed from the house before implementing the plan.

Brooks, however, did nothing.

He was not in his office May 8 - five days before the MOVE confrontation - and left town to visit his parents in Alexandria, Va., May 9. He didn't advise his staff how to proceed. He didn't return to the city until the night of Sunday May 12, Mother's Day, when the Osage neighborhood had been evacuated and hundreds of police officers and firefighters had surrounded the block.

Brooks said he had agreed with Police Commissioner Gregore Sambor to drop an explosive device from a helicopter.

With binoculars, Brooks watched from the ninth-floor balcony of a nearby geriatric center when the bomb was dropped at 5:27 p.m. on May 13.

About 15 minutes later, he noticed a fire on the roof of the compound, he testified.

Brooks said he told Sambor at 5:55 to extinguish the fire because "the mission had been accomplished."

Sambor said the call came closer to 6:30 p.m. and by that time, he had already ordered firefighting efforts to begin.

On May 21, Brooks said that he planned to resign and that he had told Goode of his intention to leave city government two weeks before the bombing.

He said he wanted to "find another way to deal with life," citing time demands. "It is not the pressure of this work. It is the pressure of having no family life."

Quote: The original plan was not to "shoot at anybody, to drop explosives or turn on the squirts or anything," he testified in a videotaped deposition.

"When the citizens failed to abide by the law and respond to the police authority, that's when these other things happened."

2010: Brooks is retired and living in Alexandria, Va., with his wife, Naomi. He did not return phone messages left by the Daily News with relatives and did not respond to a letter sent to him by the Daily News.

-Barbara Laker

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