Brooklyn D.A. Moves to Vacate the Wrongful Conviction of Vanessa Gathers Tried for Murder – Convicted of Manslaughter – Spent 10 Years in Prison; First Woman Exonerated by Conviction Review Unit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

 

Brooklyn D.A. Moves to Vacate the Wrongful Conviction of Vanessa Gathers
Tried for Murder – Convicted of Manslaughter – Spent 10 Years in Prison;
First Woman Exonerated by Conviction Review Unit

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that following a thorough review by his Conviction Review Unit, he will move to vacate a manslaughter conviction against Vanessa Gathers, 58, who was wrongfully convicted of the charge following a 1998 jury trial.

District Attorney Thompson said, “After a thorough and fair review of the case by my Conviction Review Unit and the Independent Review Panel, I have concluded that, in the interest of justice, the manslaughter conviction obtained against Vanessa Gathers should not stand and that she should be given back her good name.”

The District Attorney’s Office will move to vacate the conviction, in the presence of Ms. Gathers, today at 2:15 p.m., before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic at 320 Jay Street, 15th floor.

The District Attorney described the facts of the case as follows: On November 18, 1991, Michael Shaw, 71, called 911 and reported that he had been assaulted and robbed inside of his apartment located at 170 New York Avenue in Crown Heights. He was taken to a hospital by ambulance where he underwent two operations to stop the bleeding in his brain. He lapsed into a post-surgical coma and died on April 21, 1992. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head.

The case was classified as a robbery on November 23, 1991 and was investigated by detectives assigned to the 77th precinct, to no avail. Following Mr. Shaw’s death, it was classified as a homicide and assigned to Detective Louis Scarcella of Brooklyn North Homicide and others. Detective Scarcella and his partner approached Vanessa Gathers on the street on May 18, 1992, because she fit the description of one of the assailants. She denied being involved in the robbery and assault but identified another woman who may have committed those crimes. She was released without being charged.

Five years later, in 1997, following further investigation, Gathers was questioned again by Detective Scarcella and gave a confession. Her confession was the sole evidence against her at trial. She was convicted in 1998 and imprisoned, then released to parole on March 2, 2007, after spending 10 years in prison and completed her parole in 2012.

After examining all of the facts and circumstances of the case against Gathers it was determined by the CRU that there is substantial evidence that she made a false confession based, in part, on the defendant’s inability to articulate her role in the assault; perceived inaccuracies in the statement itself; and the lack of details in the statement. The CRU found that the complete lack of a coherent narrative in the defendant’s confession combined with apparent factual errors, amount to reasonable doubt in the validity of the confession itself.

The District Attorney said that his Conviction Review Unit examined the case because it was one of approximately 72 cases in which retired Detective Louis Scarcella was involved.

Gathers, 58, is the first woman to have her conviction vacated by the CRU.

To date, the work of the Conviction Review Unit, which is led by Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale, has resulted in 18 convictions being vacated. In addition, the CRU has found that of the cases reviewed thus far, 38 convictions are just and will not be recommended to be vacated.  Approximately 100 cases are pending review.

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Brooklyn District Attorney Moves to Vacate 20th Wrongful Conviction

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 2, 2016

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Moves to Vacate 20th Wrongful Conviction

Will Seek Dismissal of Murder Conviction in Connection With
The 1963 Shooting Death of Artist in Crown Heights

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that, as a result of a thorough investigation by his Conviction Review Unit, he will move to vacate a second-degree murder conviction against Paul Gatling, 81, who pleaded guilty during trial to escape a possible death penalty.

District Attorney Thompson said, “Paul Gatling repeatedly proclaimed his innocence even as he faced the death penalty back in the 60s. He was pressured to plead guilty and, sadly, did not receive a fair trial. Today, 52 years later, he will be given back his good name and receive justice here in Brooklyn, where he once called home.”

Today at 2:15 p.m., the District Attorney’s Office will move to vacate the conviction in the presence of Mr. Gatling before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo at 320 Jay Street, Part 14, 17th floor.

The District Attorney described the facts of the case as follows: On October 15, 1963 at approximately 8 p.m., police officers assigned to the now-former 80th Precinct responded to a report that a man had been murdered inside of his home, located at 1480 Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The officers discovered the victim, Lawrence Rothbort, 43, a local painter and sculptor, lying face down in a pool of blood. He died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

The victim’s pregnant wife, Marlene, and their two children were present in the kitchen with Mr. Rothbort at the time of the shooting.  Mrs. Rothbort informed the officers that her family had just finished dinner when a “Negro” man holding a shotgun walked into their first floor art gallery/apartment and demanded money. The victim refused and was shot once in the chest. An eyewitness observed the intruder walk out of the building and continue down Bedford Avenue. Mrs. Rothbort provided her description of the intruder to a police sketch artist, and the police canvassed the area for a month, but could never recover the murder weapon or find possible suspects.

On November 15, 1963, detectives questioned Paul Gatling, 29, after questioning Grady Reaves over the course of several days. Reaves told police that he saw Gatling in the vicinity of the murder at the time of the shooting.

Gatling’s conviction relied heavily on the eyewitness testimony of Reaves and Mrs. Rothbort. However, Reaves had been a cooperating witness in multiple cases and is known to have committed perjury at least once. Reaves testified that on the night in question he and a companion, Joseph Hardy, were outside  his home when he heard what sounded like a car backfire, and claims he saw the defendant crossing an intersection on Bedford Avenue. Approximately 30 to 45 minutes later he said the defendant approached Hardy and himself inquiring about the Rothbort murder.

Mrs. Rothbort, who was nine months pregnant when she testified at trial, said that Gatling was the man who shot her husband, despite failing to identify him out of a line-up prior to trial. The victim’s 7-year-old son testified as an unsworn witness and said he could recognize the intruder, but that the man who killed his father was not in the courtroom. No physical evidence connected Gatling to the crime.

Gatling’s defense attorney and family urged him to plead guilty to second-degree murder towards the end of his trial to avoid the death penalty, and fearing the jury sympathized with the pregnant widow. After getting assurances from his attorneys and family that they would continue to look for the real killer, the defendant pleaded guilty to escape death row. He was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison in October 1964 after a hearing on a motion to withdraw his plea was denied.

In December 1973, on his last day in office, Governor Nelson Rockefeller commuted the defendant’s sentence at the urging of the Legal Aid Society, which had taken up his case. Gatling’s sentence was commuted and he was released from prison in January 1974.

After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, the CRU determined that the defendant was deprived of his right to a fair trial based on several issues, including Rosario and Brady violations. The defense was never provided with key police reports concerning the murder, including a description of the shooter as being around 17 to 20 years old, and was never informed of Reaves’ repeated use as a prosecution witness and prior perjury.

The CRU investigated the case after receiving a letter from Gatling. To date, the work of the Conviction Review Unit, which is led by Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale, has resulted in 20 convictions being vacated. In addition, the CRU has found that of the cases reviewed thus far, 38 convictions are just and will not be recommended to be vacated. Approximately 100 cases are pending review.

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Brooklyn District Attorney Moves to Vacate Weapons Conviction Stemming From 1988 Shooting Following Re-Examination by Conviction Review Unit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 2, 2015

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Moves to Vacate Weapons Conviction Stemming
From 1988 Shooting Following Re-Examination by Conviction Review Unit

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that following a thorough review by his Conviction Review Unit, he will move to vacate a second-degree criminal possession of a weapon conviction against Carlos Davis, who was convicted of the charge following a 1991 jury trial.

Carlos Davis, 45, was charged with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon for the September 17, 1988, shooting death of Norris Williams in the vicinity of Cozine Avenue, between Hendrix Street and Schenck Avenue, in East New York, during a confrontation between two separate groups of young men. He was acquitted of the murder charge but convicted of the weapons charge on February 8, 1991. On March 5, 1991, he was sentenced to seven and one-half to 15 years’ incarceration, and released from custody in March 1997.

After examining all of the facts and circumstances of the case against Davis it was determined that the sole witness who testified against him at trial lied about her identity, including her name and address; contradicted grand jury testimony of several eyewitnesses who later refused to testify at trial; may have had an undisclosed relationship with the victim’s brother; and came forward only after a judge warned prosecutors mid-trial that she would be dismissing the case for lack of evidence.

The CRU investigation concluded that the defendant’s attorney lacked the opportunity to effectively cross-examine the sole incriminating witness against him by her intentional concealment of her identity. Coupled with her last-minute appearance at trial and inconsistencies in her testimony, it is recommended the conviction be vacated.

The District Attorney said that his Conviction Review Unit examined that case because it was one of approximately 70 cases in which retired Detective Louis Scarcella was involved. The investigation, however, concluded there was no wrongdoing by Detective Scarcella and that he played no part in bringing the last-minute witness forward.

To date, the work of the Conviction Review Unit, headed by Harvard Law Professor Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., has resulted in ___ convictions being vacated, and one appeal being dropped.  In addition, the CRU has found that of the cases reviewed thus far, ___ convictions are just and will not be recommended to be vacated.  Approximately 100 cases are pending review.

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Baltimore Man Sentenced to 25 Years in State Prison for Shooting Rampage in Bedford-Stuyvesant that Left Three People Injured

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

 

Baltimore Man Sentenced to 25 Years in State Prison for
Shooting Rampage in Bedford-Stuyvesant that Left Three People Injured

Defendant Fired Nine Times on Residential Block

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 27-year-old man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for striking three people after opening fire on a Bedford-Stuyvesant street.

District Attorney Thompson said, “It is truly remarkable that more innocent people weren’t injured or even killed when this defendant pulled out a gun and callously fired nine shots, in broad daylight, in a residential area. He deserves to spend a very long time behind bars for his outrageous and criminal behavior.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Cush Wright-El, 27, of Baltimore, Maryland. He was today sentenced to 25 years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Suzanne Mondo. The defendant was convicted of one count of second-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of first-degree reckless endangerment following a jury trial last month.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on October 1, 2014, at approximately 5:45 p.m., in the vicinity of Pulaski Street and Stuyvesant Avenue, the defendant, dressed in a dark hooded sweatshirt, approached William Mayo, 57, and his nephew, Kayshawn Mayo, 16, as they played a game of chess and opened fire, striking the older man in the ankle and the teenager in the shoulder and back, and grazing his head.

Furthermore, according to trial testimony, the defendant then ran down the street and continued firing, striking bystander Judith Daniel, 61, in the right leg, foot and left calf. William Mayo’s nephew, Demetrious Mayo, 28, got into his car and followed the defendant, allegedly ramming into him. The defendant was arrested and a .40 caliber weapon was recovered in a hooded jacket. Nine shell casings were recovered at the scene of the shooting.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Chief of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Krystyn Tendy, also of the Grey Zone.

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 17 Years to Life for Shooting Two Victims, One Fatally, after Altercation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 6, 2016

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 17 Years to Life for
Shooting Two Victims, One Fatally, after Altercation

Shot Victim Three Times Following Confrontation on Sunset Park Stoop

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 25-year-old Brooklyn man was sentenced to 17 years to life in prison for the murder of another man whom he shot to death after they had a confrontation in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Another victim was shot in the leg.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant opened fire on a residential block, killing a man and wounding another. We will not tolerate this type of gun violence on our streets and will ensure that those who kill and injure others will be held accountable and sent to prison for many years.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Valentin Torres, 25, of 538 82nd Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Alan Marrus to 17 years to life in prison following his conviction on April 8, 2016 on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon after a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, at approximately 1 a.m. on August 25, 2013, the defendant was sitting outside 744 39th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn when he was approached by Johnny Rosado, 35. The two got into a fight over a comment the defendant purportedly made to a woman, according to testimony.

The defendant pulled out a revolver and fired the gun multiple times, striking Rosado three times and also hitting another man in the leg, according to witnesses. The defendant was arrested in New Jersey about two weeks later.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Melissa Carvajal, Deputy Bureau Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Kenneth Taub, Chief.

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Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Announces Creation of New Young Adult Bureau

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 6, 2016

 

Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Announces
Creation of New Young Adult Bureau

Will Handle Misdemeanor Cases against Defendants Ages 16-24;
First Such Court in New York State and Second in the Nation Funded by DOJ Grant

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced the creation of a Young Adult Bureau that will operate in the newly-formed Brooklyn Young Adult Court, in partnership with the Office of Court Administration and the Center for Court Innovation. The new specialized court – the first in New York State – will handle all misdemeanor cases of defendants between the ages 16 and 24, offering risk-needs assessments, counseling and services tailored to the specific requirements of that particular age group, including substance abuse, mental health, anger management, GED, vocational and internship programs.

District Attorney Thompson said, “Young adult offenders who enter the criminal justice system are at a higher risk of re-offending after being incarcerated. Many return to our society, not rehabilitated, but as hardened criminals. Recognizing that, our Office, in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation, applied for a grant and created a specialized Brooklyn Young Adult Bureau that will offer young misdemeanor offenders who may be facing incarceration the appropriate help and services they may need to help set them on the right path and avoid a prison sentence. I would like to thank the U. S. Department of Justice for providing funding, the Center for Court innovation for their partnership in providing services, and the Office of Court Administration and our other partners in this endeavor for their commitment to making this smart prosecution initiative a reality.”

Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks said, “This is one more example of the criminal justice system working together to implement an innovative approach to low-level criminal activity. By focusing on young adults charged with low-level offenses, this new court part seeks to identify the underlying problem that led these cases to come into court, and develop an age-appropriate solution to address that underlying problem. Research has shown that young people are more amenable to rehabilitation. Ensuring that these individuals are referred to appropriate services and programs will lower recidivism and help them go on to become productive, law-abiding adults. I applaud District Attorney Ken Thompson for his strong support of this program and his leadership in establishing a special bureau within his office that complements the new young adult court part.”

Director of Operations at the Center for Court Innovation Adam Mansky said, “The Brooklyn Young Adult Court represents a powerful shift in how the criminal justice system treats young adults. Bringing together all parties—the judge, Kings County District Attorney’s office, Brooklyn Defender Services, and Legal Aid Society—the Young Adult Court will use evidence-based decision-making to reduce unnecessary incarceration for young people and connect them to meaningful social services. The initiative expands on research indicating that targeted and tailored interventions for young adults – a group developmentally distinct from older adults—can significantly reduce recidivism and promote public safety.”

The District Attorney said that the Brooklyn Young Adult Court (BYAC) will begin operations at a dedicated court part in Brooklyn Criminal Court, located at 120 Schermerhorn Street. It will be presided over by Judge Craig S. Walker, under the leadership of Supervising Judge Michael Yavinsky and the overall supervision of Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks and will handle cases involving defendants between the ages of 16 to 24 who are charged with misdemeanors, with an eye toward expanding to low-level felonies in the future. The new Bureau will be headed by Bureau Chief Johanne Macajoux and consist of several assistant district attorneys, two paralegals and a Project Coordinator.

A ceremony to dedicate the new court part will be held on Friday, May 6, 2016 at 1 p.m. in Brooklyn Criminal Court, 120 Schermerhorn Street, 10th floor.

Funding for the BYAC was provided through a Smart Prosecution grant of $425,000 awarded last fall to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) by the United States Department of Justice to create and operate the first Young Adult Court in New York State, with the only other similar model in the country located in San Francisco.

The grant recognized that while 18- to 24-year-olds comprise just 10% of the U.S. population, they account for almost 30% of criminal arrests. Young adults are more likely to be sent to prison for violent and property crimes than any other age group and have the highest propensity of re-arrest and return to prison than any other age group. They are also victims of crimes at twice the rate of the general population and face more severe consequences from conviction and incarceration, such as problems in securing employment, education and housing.

Furthermore, studies show that young adults in this age group have brains that are not fully developed, which can lead them to make poor choices and struggle with impulse control. Those with histories of trauma, neglect, poverty, foster care, substance abuse, mental health needs and learning disabilities are even less likely to have healthy brain and psychological development and are more likely to engage in criminal behavior.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and its partners recognize that these young offenders require a new and individualized approach to prosecution to set them on the right path, decrease recidivism and enhance public safety. Achieving these objectives is the goal of the Brooklyn Young Adult Court.

The program will build on the model of the Red Hook Community Justice Center, where alternative sentencing and case-specific resolutions are being implemented successfully. The prosecution unit will work closely with a cross-agency team that will include CCI, the Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, the Defense Bar, the New York Police Department and the Department of Probation to ensure defendants’ compliance. CCI will also conduct a formal impact evaluation and create technical assistance tools that could be adopted nationally.

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Coney Island Teenager Convicted of Murder and Arson in Death of New York City Police Officer Dennis Guerra

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 5, 2016

 

Coney Island Teenager Convicted of Murder and Arson in Death of
New York City Police Officer Dennis Guerra

Officer Killed Responding to Deadly Mattress Fire in Housing Development Hallway;
Officer Rosa Rodriguez, His Partner, Was Critically Injured

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a Coney Island teenager has been convicted of felony murder and arson for setting fire to a mattress in the hallway of a New York City Housing Authority building. Officer Dennis Guerra and his partner, Officer Rosa Rodriguez, responded to the scene and were immediately overcome by smoke and carbon monoxide. Officer Guerra later died of his injuries.

District Attorney Thompson said, “Police Officers Guerra and Rodriguez showed great courage when they rushed into that building to save the lives of others. Tragically, Officer Guerra lost his life and his partner suffered severe and permanent life-threatening injuries – all because the defendant was bored and set a mattress on fire, and did so despite being clearly warned about the dangers of setting fires. May this verdict bring some comfort to Officer Guerra’s family, as well as to Officer Rodriguez and her loved ones and to the men and women of the NYPD.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Marcell Dockery, 18, of 2007 Surf Avenue in Coney Island. He was convicted today of second-degree murder, first-degree assault and fourth-degree arson following a jury trial before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. The defendant will be sentenced on June 14, 2016 at which time he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

On April 6, 2014, at approximately 12:30 p.m., according to trial testimony, Officers Guerra and Rodriguez responded to a 911 call of a fire at the defendant’s apartment building located at 2007 Surf Avenue. When the officers arrived on the 13th floor, the location of the fire, they were overcome by toxic smoke. Responding firefighters found both officers unconscious and rescued them from the building.

The District Attorney said that, according to testimony, the defendant, who lived on the 12th floor, found a discarded mattress in a 13th floor hallway and used a lighter to set it on fire.

The defendant admitted to setting the deadly fire and told investigators, according to evidence submitted at trial, “I decided to take a lighter and light the top of the mattress because I was bored.” He was convicted of causing a death while committing a felony, namely, arson.

Both officers were hospitalized for severe smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. Officer Guerra, a second-generation police officer, succumbed to his injuries three days later. He is survived by his wife and four children. Officer Rodriguez recovered and is currently assigned to the New York City Police Department’s Medical Division and placed on limited duty due to her injuries.

Officer Guerra, an eight-year NYPD veteran, and Officer Rodriguez, a four-year veteran, were assigned to Police Service Area 1 of the Housing Bureau.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Howard L. Jackson, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Lauren Silver, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Taub, Bureau Chief.

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Man Sentenced to 23 Years to Life for 1991 Murder

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

 

Man Sentenced to 23 Years to Life for 1991 Murder

Arrested in Alabama in 2007 after 16 Years on the Lam

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a 55-year-old man was sentenced to 23 years to life in prison for shooting a man in the face outside a New Year’s Eve party in 1991. The defendant was arrested in 2007 in Alabama, where he lived under an assumed identity. He was found guilty in 2011, but that conviction was overturned on appeal.

District Attorney Thompson said, “Justice finally prevailed in this case and a man who committed a brutal murder will now pay for his actions. I hope that the victim’s family, who waited so many years for some closure, will find solace in today’s sentence.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Derrick Lloyd, 55, of Montgomery, Alabama. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog to 23 years to life in prison, following his conviction on March 24, 2016 of second-degree murder after a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, in the early morning hours of January 1, 1991, the defendant left a house party at 5624 Farragut Road in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, looking for an intoxicated man who had caused a disturbance at the party. He approached a group of people seated on a bench and demanded to know where the person he was looking for went. No one was able to answer the defendant.

The defendant then stated, “I want answers now,” the evidence showed. William Smith, 22, replied with words to the effect of “We all want answers” and the two got into a fight. In the course of the altercation, the defendant pulled out a gun and shot the victim in the face, killing him, according to testimony.

The defendant was identified by a witness on the day of the incident, but could not be located. In August 2007, he entered a Department of Motor Vehicles location in Alabama, where he has been living under the assumed name Rashad Hamid. A clerk noticed that he was using fraudulent documents and the defendant was subsequently identified as Derrick Lloyd, who had been the subject of an extensive search and featured on the “America’s Most Wanted” television program.

He stood trial in 2011, was convicted and sentenced to 18 years to life in prison. An appellate court overturned the conviction in 2014 and ordered a new trial.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Emily Dean of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Kenneth Taub, Chief.

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Teen Gunman Sentenced to 12 Years to Life in Prison for Murder of Innocent Man on Crowded Bus during Rush Hour

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

 

Teen Gunman Sentenced to 12 Years to Life in Prison for
Murder of Innocent Man on Crowded Bus during Rush Hour

Victim Shot in Head and Killed by Gang Member

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson announced today that a Bedford-Stuyvesant teenager has been sentenced to 12 years to life in prison. The defendant was convicted earlier this year on charges of second-degree murder for pulling out a .357 Magnum revolver on a crowded city bus during rush hour to open fire on rival gang members, and instead, shooting an innocent 39-year-old man in the back of the head, killing him.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This young man will have many years in prison to think about how his act of senseless gang violence destroyed a family and took the life of an innocent man, Angel Rojas, who left behind a wife and two young children. He will now be held accountable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Kahton Anderson, 16, of 660 Gates Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Dineen Riviezzo today sentenced Anderson, as a juvenile, to 12 years to life in prison on his second-degree murder conviction, and three to nine years on his second-degree attempted murder conviction, ordering both sentences to run concurrently. Anderson was convicted following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on the afternoon of March 20, 2014, Anderson – a Stack Money Goons gang member – was on a southbound B15 bus when three members of the rival Twan Family gang boarded. Anderson, who was 14-years-old at the time, pulled out a .357 revolver from his backpack and opened fire.

Angel Rojas, 39, who was married and the father of an 8-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, was sitting in a forward facing seat on the bus, talking on a cell phone. He was struck in the back of the head. After shooting Rojas, the defendant ran off the bus to pursue his rivals and continued to shoot until he emptied his gun. Rojas was pronounced dead shortly thereafter at Woodhull Hospital.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, Chief of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Iris Das, of the Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau, under the supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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Police Officer Convicted of Assault for Stomping on Suspect’s Head

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 29, 2016

 

Police Officer Convicted of Assault for Stomping on Suspect’s Head

Incident Caught on Cell Phone Video

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson today announced that a New York City Police Officer has been convicted of misdemeanor assault for stomping on the head of a suspect while he was face down on the ground, in the process of being handcuffed by other officers.

District Attorney Thompson said, “This police officer, in broad daylight and in front of a crowd of people, stomped on the head of a suspect while he lay on the ground, subdued and surrounded by other officers.  That’s why he was indicted, put on trial and convicted.  His conduct was simply outrageous.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Joel Edouard, 38, of Elmont, NY, who was assigned to the 81st precinct at the time of the incident. He was found guilty today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Alan Marrus of one count of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, after a non-jury trial. The defendant is facing a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a minimum sentence of a conditional discharge when he is sentenced on June 10, 2016. 

The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, on July 23, 2014, at about 7:30 p.m., in the vicinity of 223 Malcolm X Boulevard, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, the defendant and his partner observed Jahmi-El Cuffee, 32, drinking on the sidewalk and possessing what appeared to be marijuana. Cuffee resisted arrest and tussled with the officers. Additional officers arrived on the scene to assist Officer Edouard and his partner.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, a witness to the incident captured a cell phone video which depicts Cuffee on the ground, face down and being subdued by several officers. Also depicted on the video is Officer Edouard briefly pointing his gun at Cuffee, walking away from the scene of the arrest and then walking back and stomping on Cuffee’s head as he lay on the ground. Cuffee’s head then hit the concrete, causing him to suffer a contusion and later dizziness, headaches and nausea.

The case was investigated by Sergeant Amy Morin of the New York City Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner of Internal Affairs Joseph Reznick.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Marc Fliedner, Chief of the District Attorney’s Civil Rights Bureau and Assistant District Attorney India Sneed, also of the Civil Rights Bureau, under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.