New York City district attorneys have now dropped hundreds of cases against suspects for looting during the civil unrest that exploded in the city and the rest of the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis law enforcement officers.
“Those numbers, to be honest with you, is disgusting,” said Jessica Betancourt, an eyeglass shop owner and victim of looting who had her business ransacked and destroyed during the violence and rioting. “I was in total shock that everything is being brushed off to the side.”
A similar story has played out in Manhattan, where 222 of the 485 cases containing charges of looting and burglary have been dropped. Another 73 suspects saw their charges reduced, while 128 cases remain open.
Betancourt, who is vice president of a local merchants association, said many business leaders are upset that suspects are walking away without consequences after many of their businesses were severely damaged in the unrest.advertisement — content continues below
Wilbur Chapman, the former NYPD Chief of Patrol, went on to signal confusion concerning the numbers, saying that the city’s district attorneys might need to look for employment elsewhere.
“If they are so overworked that they can’t handle the mission that they’re hired for, then maybe they should find another line of work,” Chapman went on to say. “It allowed people who committed crimes to go scot-free.”
NYPD Inspector Andrew Arias shared Chapman’s sentiments, going on to point out all of the effort the police put in to finding these suspects and bringing them into custody.
“We had to analyze each case individually and see if, in fact, we could prove the right person had committed the crime,” Arias stated.
An internal memo revealed that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance allegedly told his prosecutors that there were over 600 burglary arrests and 3,500 unindicted felony cases that have been put on hold during the pandemic. He then instructed prosecutors to review the cases for criminal histories of the defendants, if police could put them at the scene, and if they caused “any damage to the store.”
“For many of these commercial burglaries, you will be asked to reduce the initial felony charge to a misdemeanor and to dispose of the case … with an eye towards rehabilitation,” Vance is reported to have told his office.
Vance then went on to stress to prosecutors that they need to work toward reaching a “continued goal to achieve consistency and equitable treatment in these cases.”