Charges have been dropped against “hundreds of alleged looters and rioters busted last year in protests over George Floyd’s murder by police” reports the New York Post. Many business owners are infuriated by the free pass being given to those who violated their livelihoods.
Jessica Betancourt, owner of a Bronx eyeglass store that was looted told NBC the numbers of rioters getting off “is disgusting.” “I was in total shock that everything is being brushed off to the side,” she said. “They could do it again because they know they won’t get the right punishment” Betancourt added.
The Post reports “more than 60 percent of arrestees have had charges dropped, according to the investigation by NBC New York. Seventy-three of the 118 people arrested in the borough had their cases shelved altogether, another 19 were convicted on lesser counts like trespassing, which carries no jail time, the report said.”
In Manhattan 222 arrested rioters had their cases completely dropped and 73 got lesser counts. Of 485 people arrested in the borough, 128 have open criminal court cases and 40 juvenile defendants had their cases moved to family court, according to NBC’s findings.
Sources in the DA’s offices insisted that in many of the cases, the evidence was not strong enough to secure a conviction. The offices are also swamped with a backlog of cases created by the courts’ prolonged closure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patrice O’Shaughnessy, a spokeswoman for the Bronx DA’s Office, provided differing information than the NBC report.
She said there were 90 total arrests on felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from riots on June 1 and 2 last year — and 28 were outright dismissals, accounting for about 31 percent.
Fourteen cases were resolved with what’s known as an “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal” — meaning, charges get tossed if the defendant stays out of trouble for six months or completes community service.
The remainder of the cases were either resolved with a guilty plea or conditional discharge, or are still pending, according to O’Shaughnessy.
“We went forward with cases for which we had evidence and a complaining witness,” she said. “Some cases were dismissed but we held people accountable because we do not tolerate violence against Bronx business owners.”
Former NYPD Chief of Patrol Wilbur Chapman said that the district attorneys’ offices and the courts had “allowed people who committed crimes to go scot-free.”
“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 told NBC.