Hundreds of alleged rioters and looters have charges dropped in police-defunded NYC

NEW YORK CITY, NY – According to reports, literally hundreds of cases linked to the rioting and looting from the summer of 2020 in New York City have been dropped by prosecutors. 

This revelation has reasonably stoked angers in the community, with one former NYPD chief claiming that this has “allowed people who committed crimes to go scot free.”

In the not-too-distant past, particularly the period of late May and early June of 2020, the New York City boroughs of the Bronx and Manhattan saw numerous riots which consisted of widespread looting and vandalism. 

And with as chaotic as those scene were at the time, there were of course numerous arrests and subsequent charges for said criminal activity. 

Yet, a recent review of NYPD data by NBC New York uncovered an unsettling reality one-year after these riots: most of the cases linked to rioting and looting have simply been dropped by various District Attorneys. 

For instance, cases handled out of the Bronx borough found that a large percentage of the cases were dismissed. 

During the worst of the rioting and looting in early June of 2020, NYPD data showed that there were 118 arrests made. As of today, 73 cases have been either dropped or dismissed between the Bronx district attorney and the courts.

So far, out of the remaining cases, only 19 have resulted in any convictions – which those were reportedly consisting of lesser charges such as trespassing (meaning no jail time for many). 

Jessica Betancourt, a Bronx-based business owner whose eyeglass shop was one of the many stores looted and destroyed along Burnside Avenue in June of 2020 was shocked at the news:

“I was in total shock that everything is being brushed off to the side.”

Betancourt described the number of dropped cases as “disgusting” and stated that many local business leaders are furious over the lack of accountability being furnished during these legal proceedings. 

As for the Manhattan borough, the results are somewhat similar to that of the Bronx. 

NYPD data accounts for 485 arrests during the period from late May to early June of 2020 during the riots. However, 222 cases were later dropped or dismissed, with 73 other cases having resulted in convictions for lesser counts like trespassing. 

Approximately 40 cases also involved juveniles in Manhattan, which means they’re being handled by the family courts. But there are still 128 cases that remain open as of this writing. 

One of the excuses that have been floating around regarding the numerous cases dropped by various DAs is a lack of resources to handle the caseload. 

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Former NYPD Chief of Patrol Wilbur Chapman had some choice words regarding the notion of there being not enough bandwidth to prosecute offenders: 

“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.”

However, it is not just a lack of resources that have been the claimed reasoning for many cases being dropped by various DAs.

Sources within the Manhattan and the Bronx DA’s offices claim that there is lacking evidence in many of the looting and rioting cases brought to them.

Basically, the threshold of “beyond a reasonable doubt” needed to appease potential juries simply wasn’t there for many cases. 

While that may be tough to stomach for some, it is at least somewhat understandable since these offenses occurred within the backdrop of actual riots.

Riots, in nature, are chaotic; and with chaos comes confusion. Deputy Inspector Andrew Arias, who worked alongside the NYPD in reviewing evidence consisting of  video and photos along with recovered stolen property commented on the tedious process involved: 

“We had to analyze each case individually and see if, in fact, we could prove the right person had committed the crime.”

But there’s also the leniency aspect with cases where evidence is at least sufficient to move forward. 

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the New York state court system, noted that decisions relating to court cases being dismissed rely heavily with the respective district attorney’s office: 

“An application must be made by the district attorney or as they have done with hundreds of [court appearance orders], decline to prosecute them.”

Reportedly, Manhattan DA Cy Vance noted in an internal memo that prosecutors are to review a defendants’ criminal history, see if police could place the suspect at the scene of the crime, and see if the suspect caused “any damage to the store.”

Within this memo, after relaying the aforementioned, DA Vance instructed his prosecutors that “many of these commercial burglaries, you will be asked to reduce the initial felony charge to a misdemeanor and to dispose of the case.”

DA Vance’s internal memo proclaimed that there is a “continued goal to achieve consistency and equitable treatment in these cases.”

While DA Vance sees leniency in the face of looting and rioting as a form of equity, Former NYPD Chief of Patrol Chapman sees this approach as a free pass for the inexcusable violent rioting of 2020: 

“It allowed people who committed crimes to go scot free.”

For business owners like Betancourt, this abdication of justice feels like its an invitation for future instances of lawlessness: 

“They could do it again because they know they won’t get the right punishment.”

Even though the riots in the boroughs of 2020 are now one-year removed, the damage didn’t magically disappear, needed repairs to storefronts and interiors were not cost-free, and the monetary harm causing damage to livelihoods is far from rectified. 

But yet, many will not pay for the crimes they committed during the riots of 2020 consisting of bona fide harm to residents of New York City.


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Author: Gregory Hoyt

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