NEW YORK — If “social justice” means dismissing criminal charges against defendants who’ve been arrested for rioting and looting in the wake of George Floyd’s death, then New York City activists should be thankful since hundreds of those cases have been dropped, according to an analysis of NYPD data.
While criminals and their allies will embrace the statistics with glee, local business owners find it “disgusting” as purveyors of chaos have shirked responsibility for property damage and losses.
The findings were published in a story by NBC New York. More than 60 percent of the criminal defendants in the Bronx—from the worst of the rioting in early June of 2020—had their charges dismissed.
“The mobs seemingly pillaged at will. Many were caught on tape, some with their faces visible. Others even posted on social (media) their own videos of their actions those nights,” NBC wrote.
Along with 73 out of the 118 arrested getting charges completely dropped, another 19 were convicted on lesser counts like trespassing, which carries no jail time, the report said.
Some 18 cases are still open, while another eight arrests are unaccounted for, New York Post reported.
“In Manhattan, many major retailers and local shops were broken into in late May and into June. Amid the pandemic, mobs and organized criminals were taking advantage of huge protests rocking the city after the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd,” NBC reported.
The NYPD data shows there were 485 arrests made during the rioting in Manhattan. Of those cases, 222—46 percent— were later dropped and 73 seeing convictions for lesser counts like trespassing. Another 40 cases involved juveniles and were sent to family court; 128 cases remain open, according to NBC’s research.
The lack of accountability has business owners fed up.
“Those numbers, to be honest with you, is disgusting,” Jessica Betancourt, who owns a Bronx eyeglass store that was looted and is vice president of a local merchants association, told NBC.
“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,” she said of the looters and rioters who caused mayhem and destruction.
NYPD Deputy Inspector Andrew Arias discussed the work that went into the investigations, the Post reported.
“We had to analyze each case individually and see if, in fact, we could prove the right person had committed the crime,” Arias said.
Sources in the DA’s office said some cases were rejected since they could not be “proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” They likely had a fair share of “in the interest of justice,” rejects too. But they also blamed the COVID backlog as a significant reason.
NBC noted an internal memo in which Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance says there are more than 3,500 unindicted felony cases waiting to move forward that have been on hold because of the pandemic.
Although Vance’s office declined to comment, perhaps the most colorful reason for being overworked is caused by the time spent investigating former President Donald Trump’s businesses.
Bronx DA Darcell Clark also declined repeated requests by NBC for an interview.
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.
A court spokesman told the news outlet that the decisions to dismiss cases were primarily made by the district attorneys. “An application must be made by the district attorney or as they have done with hundreds of DATs, decline to prosecute them,” said Lucian Chalfen.