Brooklyn Man Indicted for Murder of Three Individuals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 14, 2020

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Murder of Three Individuals

Defendant Allegedly Shot Victims to Death in Two Separate Incidents

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an East New York man has been arraigned on two indictments charging him with first-degree murder and related charges for two separate incidents in June in which he allegedly shot and killed three people.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly went on a murderous crime spree, ruthlessly killing two men and a woman over the course of a week. The defendant allegedly brazenly shot them in broad daylight. We will now seek to bring him to justice. My condolences go out to the families who lost their loved ones to this nonsensical gun violence.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Charles Hernandez, 47, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today and last week before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on two indictments in which he is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder, four counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and one count of first-degree reckless endangerment. He was ordered held without bail and to return to court on October 22, 2020. The defendant faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Additionally, the District Attorney said that Liza Jenkins, 47, of East New York, was arraigned last week on an indictment charging her with second-degree hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence for allegedly helping Hernandez get rid of the clothing he allegedly wore during the June 20, 2020 homicide. She was released without bail and ordered to return to court on October 22, 2020.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on June 20, 2020, at approximately 11 a.m., outside of his home in the vicinity of Milford Street and Blake Avenue, in East New York, Kenneth Singleton, 35, was washing his car when the defendant allegedly approached Singleton from behind and shot and killed him.

Furthermore, it is alleged, on June 27, 2020, at approximately 12:30 p.m., Stephanie Perkins, 39, and Chioke Thompson, 23, were sitting on a stoop on Van Siclen Street, near Belmont Avenue, in East New York, when the defendant allegedly approached them and opened fire, shooting and killing both victims. The defendant was allegedly wearing a blond wig, a long coat and carrying an assault rifle.

He was apprehended on July 9, 2020 in West Virginia by the Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Emily Dean assisted in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Howard Jackson, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Chief of the Homicide Bureau.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and NYPD to Host Gun Buyback Event in East New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and NYPD to Host
Gun Buyback Event in East New York

Will be Held at St. Paul Community Baptist Church on Saturday, September 12;
$200 Will be Given for Every Working Handgun or Assault Rifle, No Questions Asked

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, today announced a Gun Buyback event that will be held on Saturday, September 12, 2020 from 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at St. Paul Community Baptist Church, located at 859 Hendrix Street in East New York, Brooklyn. The event is hosted in partnership with Rev. David Brawley of East Brooklyn Congregations and Metro IAF, a national community organizing network.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “As we stand up against an uptick in shootings throughout our city and in Brooklyn, we must employ every strategy and engage every part of our community. Saturday’s gun buyback event will provide an opportunity for everyone to turn in a firearm and receive cash – a simple action that can help reduce the number of lethal weapons on our streets. I encourage anyone who is in possession of a gun or a rifle, or knows of someone who is, to come out to St. Paul’s Church, get some money and help make Brooklyn safer. My gratitude to the NYPD and Metro IAF for partnering with us.”

Commissioner Dermot Shea said, “Every day, in all kinds of ways, our NYPD officers work tirelessly to prevent gun violence. This buyback event with the community and our partners in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office represents one more effort to take guns, and the bullets in them, off of our city streets.”

Pastor Brawley said, “We are pleased to work with Brooklyn DA Gonzalez and NYPD Commissioner Shea on this buyback effort. Every gun taken off the street is a gun that can’t do damage to our children and other residents. But we need to do more — identifying the mostly out-of-state gun dealers who supply these weapons in the first place and pressuring gun makers like Glock to cut off their ties to these dealers of neighborhood destruction. Through my work as co-chair of Metro IAF we have proposed the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign which offers a comprehensive outline to do this. We also believe that the time has come for gun makers to integrate state-of-the-art gun safety technology into their weapons.”

The District Attorney said that his Office, along with the NYPD, will offer money in the form of $200 bank cards for each operable gun or assault rifle turned in. All transactions will be anonymous, no questions asked. The bank cards will be issued after each firearm is received and screened by officers on-site. Guns should be unloaded and packaged in a paper or plastic bag or a box when brought to the event. If transported by car, the guns must be kept in the trunk. Both working and inoperable weapons will be accepted.

Participants will receive $25 for operable rifles, shotguns and air guns. Unlimited numbers of guns can be turned in, but participants will receive a limit of $600 in bank cards. No identification is required, and the firearms will be accepted with no questions asked. Active and/or retired law enforcement officers and licensed gun dealers are not eligible for this event.

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Cab Driver Arraigned for Rape of 12-Year-Old Passenger Who He Allegedly Assaulted Twice After Repeatedly Punching Her

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 3, 2020

 

Cab Driver Arraigned for Rape of 12-Year-Old Passenger
Who He Allegedly Assaulted Twice After Repeatedly Punching Her

Defendant Was Hired by Relative to Drive Victim Home;
Allegedly Brandished Gun, Threatened Her if She Reported Attack

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a cab driver has been indicted for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in the early evening hours of August 10, 2020, while driving around with her for more than two hours. The defendant allegedly stopped the cab at two different locations and climbed into the back seat to rape the child, before dropping her at home.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “I was sickened to hear of this alleged brutal attack on a helpless young girl who should have been safely driven to her home. I am committed to seeking justice for all victims of sexual assault, including this child, who will live with this trauma for the rest of her life. Keeping our streets safe from violent sexual predators is a top priority and we will seek to hold this defendant fully accountable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Rafael Martinez, 32, of East New York, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo on a 28-count indictment charging him with three counts of predatory sexual assault against a child, four counts of first-degree rape, two counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault, 12 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, three counts of second-degree sexual abuse, three counts of sexual misconduct and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. The defendant, whose bail was set at $200,000, was ordered to return to court on October 19, 2020. He faces a sentence of up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on August 10, 2020, at approximately 5:30 p.m., the defendant allegedly picked up a 12-year-old girl from a relative’s home in Fort Greene and was supposed to drive the girl to her own home in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Instead, it is alleged that after driving away, the defendant allegedly stopped the cab on Bergen Street and removed what appeared to be a black firearm from the glove compartment, loaded silver bullets into it and told the victim: “If you say anything, these bullets are for you.”

The defendant then allegedly climbed into the backseat, threatened the child with a firearm, and punched her body. The defendant then allegedly proceeded to rape and sexually assault her. The defendant then allegedly went back into the driver’s seat and drove to a second location, on Herkimer Street, and returned to the backseat, pushed the victim down and allegedly raped her again. At approximately 8 p.m., he allegedly dropped her home, where she disclosed to her mother that she had been raped.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Lana Schlesinger, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not a proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Allegedly Stabbing Police Officer in Neck, Shooting His Partner and Firing Gun at Police Officers Who Responded to Scene, Wounding a Third Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Allegedly Stabbing Police Officer in Neck, Shooting His Partner and Firing Gun at Police Officers Who Responded to Scene, Wounding a Third Officer

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Flatbush man has been indicted on attempted aggravated murder and other charges for allegedly stabbing a police officer in the neck, taking the injured officer’s gun, using it to shoot the officer’s partner in the hand and also firing it at responding police officers, wounding a third officer.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly engaged in an unprovoked and cowardly attack on an officer and his partner, then opened fire at responding officers. We are lucky that these officers were not killed. This case underscores the dangers our police officers face day in and day out. We will now seek to bring this defendant to justice for endangering their lives and the lives of those around them.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Dzenan Camovic, 21, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. He is charged with three counts of attempted aggravated murder, three counts of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and other related charges in an indictment that was filed today in Brooklyn Supreme Court. He is presently being held without bail and will be arraigned on the indictment on a later date.

The District Attorney said that on June 3, 2020, at approximately 11:45 p.m., Police Officer Yayon Frantz Jean Pierre and Police Officer Randy Ramnarine were standing on the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Church Avenue when the defendant, walking south on Flatbush Avenue, walked up to Officer Jean Pierre from behind and allegedly stabbed him in the neck. He then allegedly rushed Officer Ramnarine with the knife and threw it at him.

Officer Jean Pierre allegedly fired at the defendant and then tripped. It is alleged the defendant then struggled with Officer Jean Pierre for control of his gun. After seizing the gun, the defendant is alleged to have fired at Officer Ramnarine, striking him in the hand. Additional police officers responded to the scene and the defendant also opened fire on those officers, striking one of those officers in the hand.

Two officers were shot, both in the left hand, and recovered. Officer Jean Pierre was treated for the stab wound to his neck.

The defendant was hospitalized and treated for multiple gunshot wounds and recovered.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Andy Palacio of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau and Senior Assistant District Attorney Cassandra Pond, of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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An indictment is merely an accusation and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

More Than 36 Alleged Violent Offenders Indicted over the Past Week After Grand Juries Reconvened in Brooklyn

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 19, 2020

 

More Than 36 Alleged Violent Offenders Indicted over the Past Week
After Grand Juries Reconvened in Brooklyn

Defendants charged with Murders, Gang Shootings, Attempted Murder and More;
Three Panels Now Hear Cases for First Time Since Grand Juries were Suspended in March

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that 36 individuals have been indicted for various violent crimes during the first week that grand juries reconvened. Grand juries have not been impaneled since mid-March due to the Coronavirus pandemic. With three panels currently hearing cases, the DA’s Office obtained indictments on homicides, gang shootings, attempted murder, rape and other serious felonies. All of the defendants in these cases were previously held on bail or remanded and are still detained.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “With the resumption of grand juries, we are able to redouble our efforts at fighting violent crime in Brooklyn. The dozens of indictments we obtained over the past week ensure that dangerous offenders remain in custody as we seek to bring them to justice. I am grateful to the NYPD, to our other partners in law enforcement and to the prosecutors in my Office who were ready during these challenging times to quickly present their cases.”

The District Attorney said that grand juries were empaneled on August 11 and have been hearing cases since then. The cases that are being prioritized involve incarcerated defendants accused of violent felonies, including homicides, shootings and rape.

Among those indicted is Charles Hernandez who allegedly shot a man and a woman to death in East New York on June 27, 2020. The defendant allegedly disguised himself with a long blonde wig and a surgical mask as he fired multiple rounds at the victims. He was later apprehended in West Virginia. He has been charged with first-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Also indicted was Marcus Worrell, charged with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting two victims, killing one and seriously wounding the other, inside a Brownsville deli on June 5, 2020.

Gang prosecutors indicted several defendants, including Olayinka Babatunde who’s been charged with attempted murder in connection with a September 2019 shooting. The defendant allegedly aimed at a group of rivals but struck two innocent women who were waiting to cross a Flatbush intersection. Indictments were obtained in two other gang-related cases, each charging three defendants. One was a shootout in a housing development courtyard during a July 4th barbecue attended by many families. The other involved an April shooting in which an innocent bystander was struck.

In all, the Homicide Bureau indicted 14 defendants and the Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau indicted 11 defendants, with the Special Victims Bureau and Trial Bureaus accounting for the other indictments. Numerous additional indictments are expected to be filed this week.

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Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces Creation of Gun Violence Suppression Bureau

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 19, 2020

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces
Creation of Gun Violence Suppression Bureau

Adds Resources and Expertise to Oversee All Firearm Cases;
Senior Prosecutor with Extensive Trial and Managerial Experience Appointed as Bureau Chief

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced the creation of a Gun Violence Suppression Bureau that will add resources to the Office’s core mission: keeping the public safe. The new Bureau will improve the Office’s response to gun violence by consolidating resources and expertise under a single umbrella, by working closely with law enforcement agencies to expeditiously collect and enhance the evidence necessary for successful prosecutions, by reducing gun recidivism and by training assistants who are assigned to firearm cases to apply strategies that help overcome hurdles in prosecuting these often-difficult cases. In addition, the Bureau will collaborate with the Police Department to focus on drivers of crime, track patterns of gun violence and identify likely retaliations. It will also enhance fairness by formulating and ensuring consistent plea offers to all defendants.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “With the recent and worrisome spike in gun violence, we must innovate and strengthen our response to all cases against those who carry lethal weapons on our streets. The new Gun Violence Suppression Bureau will provide a laser-like focus of our resources and expertise in targeting the small number of individuals who are responsible for most of the gun violence in our community. Maintaining the historic gains in public safety that we’ve achieved over the past decade is our vital obligation and I believe this Bureau will help in reaching this goal.”

The District Attorney said that the Bureau will be headed by Chief Patrick O’Connor. A graduate of Harvard Law School, ADA O’Connor joined the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office in 2014 as a Deputy Chief in the Gangs Bureau. Prior to that, he served for 19 years in the Queens District Attorney’s Office. He has tried more than 100 felony cases, including many homicides, during his career. About two years ago, he secured a conviction against a man who fatally stabbed 6-year-old P.J. Avitto and seriously wounded 7-year-old Mikayla Capers in a horrific unprovoked attack inside an East New York elevator. In December 2018, ADA O’Connor was appointed to lead the new Law Enforcement Accountability Bureau. His keen organizational skills, decades of legal expertise prosecuting difficult cases and a deep commitment to public safety and fairness will serve him well in his new position.

ADA O’Connor will be replaced as Bureau Chief of LEAB by Assistant District Attorney Aaron Nottage, currently a Deputy Chief in the Crime Strategies Unit. ADA Nottage, a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, joined the Office in 1994 after serving as a field coordinator for the launch of the Legal Lives program and an intake interviewer for the Alternative Sentencing Unit. As a prosecutor, he tried many felony cases, including robberies, attempted murders, and homicides. As a supervisor, he oversaw dozens of violent felony trials. He was promoted to several supervisory positions in a Trial Bureau, including Deputy Bureau Chief for Criminal Court, Grand Jury and Supreme Court. In 2017, ADA Nottage was appointed to spearhead the then-new Public Housing Crime Suppression Unit. He has ably led a team that draws on data-driven intelligence and works with the NYPD, tenant associations and community members to drive down violent crime in public housing developments. His seasoned and varied experience make him well suited for this endeavor.

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Stabbing Black Woman in Subway During Hate Crime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 30, 2020

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Stabbing
Black Woman in Subway During Hate Crime

Defendant Sentenced to Additional Two to Four Years Concurrent Time
For Separate Attack on Off-Duty Police Officer a Day Earlier

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for attacking a 57-year-old black woman and stabbing her in the back in a hate crime attack in a Brooklyn subway station. The defendant was sentenced to an additional two to four years concurrent time in prison for a separate incident in which he assaulted an off-duty police officer a day earlier.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant viciously assaulted a fellow subway rider for no other reason than the color of her skin—one of two unprovoked attacks he waged over the course of two days. Acts of hate are not tolerated in Brooklyn, a place that prides itself on the diversity of its communities. I hope this sentence sends a clear message that racism and intolerance are unwelcomed here.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Aleksejs Saveljevs, 34, of Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. He was sentenced yesterday day to 10 years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun following his guilty plea to first-degree attempted assault as a hate crime. The defendant also pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted assault for attacking a police officer and was sentenced to two to four years for that incident. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on November 9, 2018, at approximately 7:30 p.m., inside of the Church Avenue subway station, a Black woman who had just gotten off the Q train was walking on the platform towards the station exit when the defendant approached her from behind, grabbed her and repeatedly struck her about the shoulders and upper back. An eyewitness approached and attempted to help, asking: “What is going on here?” The defendant replied: “You (expletive) black (expletive).” The eyewitness then helped the victim up the stairs and shielded her from the defendant, who continued to approach them. The eyewitness told the defendant to back off and he fled the scene.

The victim went up the stairs and began to spit up blood. She was examined at the scene by emergency medical personnel, filed a report with police and went home. Later that night, the victim began to vomit as she was trying to sleep, noticed blood on her sheets and realized she had been stabbed in her back. She called 911 and was taken to Kings County Hospital and treated for a collapsed lung. She was released from the hospital on November 15, 2018.

Two days later, while going through items she was carrying during the assault she found a screwdriver inside of her lunch bag that didn’t belong to her and called police. The defendant’s DNA, which was stored in the City’s database following an unrelated arrest, was recovered from the screwdriver.

In addition, on November 8, 2018, at approximately 8:55 a.m., the defendant assaulted an off-duty police officer while the victim was walking his dog on Williams Court near East 11th Street in Sheepshead Bay. The defendant struck the victim’s head and face with a sharp object and stated, “I am going to (expletive) you up.” The defendant continued to strike the victim’s head and face as the victim fled.

The victim was treated for a broken cheek bone at Lutheran Hospital and required several staples and stitches to treat cuts to his head and face. The defendant’s building manager identified the defendant from surveillance images taken the day of the assault. The victim also identified the defendant during a lineup procedure conducted at the 61st Precinct.

The hate crime case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Adriana Rodriguez, of the District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kelli Muse, Bureau Chief.

The assault case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Lino J. De Masi of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney James Lin, Bureau Chief.

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Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Sexually Abusing Woman After Dragging Her into an Alleyway in Bushwick

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

 

Brooklyn Man Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison for Sexually Abusing Woman After Dragging Her into an Alleyway in Bushwick

Defendant Grabbed the Victim as She Walked to Laundromat

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Bushwick man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexually abusing a young woman after dragging her into an alleyway at knife point.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The defendant’s guilty plea spared the victim from testifying in court about this horrific attack and the sentence imposed holds him accountable for his actions. I am committed to bringing to justice sexual predators like this defendant who commit such brutal acts of violence against women.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Thomas Gallishaw, 25, of Bushwick, Brooklyn. He was sentenced yesterday to 15 years in prison and 10 years’ post-release supervision by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic. The defendant, who pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree robbery on July 1, 2020, must register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on June 12, 2018, at approximately 10:30 p.m., the defendant targeted a 23-year-old female victim in front of 28 Stuyvesant Avenue, in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The victim had just exited a nearby building and was walking to a laundromat. The defendant placed his arm around her neck and placed a knife to her neck. He then dragged her to the alleyway in the rear of the building, threw her to the ground and sexually abused her.

A neighbor heard a commotion in the alleyway and called 911, according to the investigation, at which time the defendant fled with the victim’s iPhone and purse. When the police arrived, a responding officer passed the defendant on the way out of the alleyway. After seeing the woman crying on the ground, the officer called out to the sergeant on the scene to stop him from leaving. As the sergeant tried to stop him, the defendant fled. He was pursued by police, who eventually located him using the Find My iPhone app on the victim’s iPhone. The phone and a knife were recovered on the defendant when he was apprehended.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Linda Weinman, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces Creation of Dedicated Street Safety Bureau

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 16, 2020

 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces
Creation of Dedicated Street Safety Bureau

Adds Resources to Support Investigations of Traffic Fatalities from Their Outset; Will Provide Assistance to Victims and Liaise with Advocates and Lawmakers to Improve Road Safety

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced the creation of a Street Safety Bureau to assist in police investigations of traffic violence cases, with emphasis on protecting bicyclists and pedestrians, respond to scenes of serious collisions in real time and coordinate support services for victims and their families. Bureau members will also work directly with legislators to assist in drafting and revising bills to combat vehicular violence, attend Safety Board meetings and host regular meetings with traffic safety advocates, among other duties.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We must do all we possibly can to battle traffic violence in Brooklyn to decrease the number of cyclists and pedestrians who are killed and maimed by drivers. With my new Street Safety Bureau, we aim to achieve that in a number of ways: adding resources to assist in collision investigations early on, partnering with advocates on safety initiatives and working with legislators to improve vehicular laws. We need to invest resources and shift our focus regarding these cases – they are often not accidents but preventable tragedies, caused by dangerous, reckless and unlawful driving. Now more than ever, as vehicular traffic in the city is expected to increase in light of the pandemic, protecting all who use our streets is paramount.”

“Traffic violence is an epidemic which impacts thousands of New Yorkers every year, so we are pleased to see that Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s new Bureau will refocus efforts to not only prevent reckless driving, but to also provide a new model of support for crash victims and their loved ones,” said Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

“Families for Safe Streets is grateful to District Attorney Eric Gonzalez for launching a new Street Safety Bureau, a proactive, preventative and trauma-informed approach to addressing the epidemic of traffic violence. As victims of traffic violence, we are particularly thankful for the support crash victims will receive, as well as the new efforts to prevent others from suffering as we have,” said Amy Cohen, co-founder of Families for Safe Streets and mother of Sammy Cohen Eckstein (12/8/00-10/8/13).

“Dangerous drivers with long records of recklessness and speeding often face little accountability for their harmful behavior. I am encouraged that the new Street Safety Bureau will center victims of dangerous driving and partner with street safety advocates and criminal justice reformers to develop new metrics and strategies for preventing traffic violence. By gathering information at crash sites and making data available about the most harmful driving patterns, this Bureau has the potential to break new ground in street safety and driver accountability. I look forward to joining our advocacy community in partnering with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to make our streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians,” said Council Member Brad Lander.

The District Attorney said that, much like in homicide cases, his prosecutors now get involved in the investigation of collisions with fatalities of cyclists or pedestrians at an earlier stage. Once the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is activated, the Street Safety Bureau immediately dispatches a prosecutor to the scene at any time, day or night. The attorney assists police in identifying evidence, speaks to witnesses while their memories are fresh, documents relevant information, drafts warrants to facilitate the gathering of evidence and makes initial contact with victims and their families. This real-time presence helps prosecutors determine early on whether criminality is suspected and ensures that all the evidence at the scene is preserved and reviewed.

When appropriate, the Bureau sends a social worker from the District Attorney’s Victim Services Bureau to the hospital. Support remains available to victims whether the incident proceeds as a criminal matter or not, like services currently provided to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

In addition, the Bureau is taking steps to accumulate reliable statistics regarding crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists in Brooklyn to coordinate proactive enforcement and community outreach in areas prone to vehicular violence. Members of the Bureau will also meet on a regular basis with advocates and other stakeholders to answer questions and discuss strategies to improve safety by promoting better laws, identifying collision hot spots and pursuing other ideas and initiatives.

From the start of 2020 through June, cyclist fatalities in Brooklyn are down 80% compared to the same period last year and pedestrian fatalities are down 11.8%. Cyclist injuries are down 15.6% and pedestrian injuries are down 38.2%. The decrease of people on the road due to the pandemic likely skewed these numbers downward.

Assistant District Attorney Ronald Snyder, an avid bicyclist for the past 15 years, was recently appointed Deputy Bureau Chief and, in addition to his day to day duties, will serve as a liaison with the cyclist community and other partners. Assistant District Attorney Craig Esswein is the Chief of the Street Safety Bureau.

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AG James and DA Gonzalez Partner to Expand Housing Protection Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

 

AG James and DA Gonzalez Partner to Expand Housing Protection Initiative

“Protect Our Homes” Initiative to Combat Deed Theft Will Now Also Focus on Illegal Evictions

BROOKLYN – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that they will be expanding their joint homeowner protection initiative to include protections for renters in New York City. The “Protect Our Homes” initiative, launched in January 2020 to educate New Yorkers about deed theft and other housing scams, will now include support for New Yorkers threatened with illegal evictions and other issues plaguing renters. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession, more New Yorkers are struggling to remain in their homes, and as a result, there is an increased risk for illegal evictions, deed theft, and other housing scams.

In January 2020, Attorney General James launched the office’s “Protect Our Homes” initiative with the formation of an interagency taskforce to focus on deed theft and homeowner fraud issues. The taskforce includes District Attorneys from all five boroughs in New York City and the New York City Sheriff’s Office. Attorney General James and District Attorney Gonzalez will convene a meeting of the expanded taskforce on Thursday, July 16, that will include The Legal Aid Society, Legal Services NYC, and other providers of eviction prevention services in New York City. The taskforce will now expand its efforts to include issues targeting renters and evictions.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are on the verge of an acute housing crisis in New York,” said Attorney General James. “Longtime homeowners in New York City were already grappling with deed theft fraud, and economically challenged renters will soon be facing evictions. I am committed to working with District Attorney Gonzalez and our other government and legal service partners to use a combination of education and enforcement to help our neighbors stay in their homes.”

“The impending housing crisis in Brooklyn will have devastating effects on our community,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Gonzalez. “We must do everything in our power to protect homeowners and renters from unscrupulous actors. I look forward to continue working with Attorney General James to ensure every Brooklynite can be safe in their home.”

As housing courts begin to reopen and the eviction moratoriums lift, New Yorkers who lost their jobs and income due to the COVID-19 pandemic are at high risk for eviction. The taskforce will discuss emerging trends that are putting people at risk of displacement, review complaints, and take appropriate action as needed. The taskforce will also work to educate renters facing eviction about their rights, and, as appropriate, connect them with lawyers through New York City’s Right to Counsel law.

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