District attorneys for New York City have now dropped hundreds of looting cases against suspects who were charged after being involved in the 2020 riots that followed the death of George Floyd.
“Those numbers, to be honest with you, is disgusting,” said Jessica Betancourt, who owns an eyeglass shop that was looted and then destroyed during the unrest. “I was in total shock that everything is being brushed off to the side.”
An analysis of New York Police Department data showed that police made 118 arrests in the Bronx in June of last year during the height of protests and riots. While many of those arrested for looting had been caught on camera or bragged about their actions on social media, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark has dropped 73 of the cases. Meanwhile, there have been 19 convictions for lesser offenses such as trespassing.
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.
Wilbur Chapman, a former NYPD Chief of Patrol went on to signal that there could be confusion about the numbers before adding that the city’s district attorneys might want to consider looking for jobs 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 declared. “It allowed people who committed crimes to go scot-free.”
NYPD Deputy Inspector Andrew Arias went on to echo Chapman’s thoughts about the district attorneys, also noting that these folks were charged after the police put in a lot of man hours to bring in these suspects.
“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 alleged to have told his office.
Vance then stressed to prosecutors that they should keeping work toward a “continued goal to achieve consistency and equitable treatment in these cases.”