New York City Prosecutors Drop Hundreds of Cases Against Rioters: Report

June 22, 2021 Updated: June 22, 2021

New York City prosecutors have dropped hundreds of cases brought against people who were charged for participating in riots that exploded in the wake of George Floyd’s death last year, according to a new report.

Despite strong evidence in many cases, such as videos posted to social media, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has dropped 222 of the 485 cases, WNBC reported, citing court records.

Seventy-three others involved convictions of lesser crimes, with the defendants avoiding jail time, while 40 cases were dealt with in juvenile court and 128 remain open.

Vance’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Major cities across the United States saw skyrocketing crime last year, including a jump in murders. After Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, protests and riots became a near-nightly occurrence in New York City and other metropolitan areas.

Rioters started fires, brazenly looted from a variety of stores, and assaulted law enforcement officers. But prosecutors have largely failed to secure convictions or guilty pleas. In Portland, Oregon—a city that saw high levels of violence—local prosecutors have declined to bring charges in many cases, while federal prosecutors dropped most of the cases they brought.

Vance wasn’t the only prosecutor in New York whose office has dropped cases.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark has dropped 73 cases out of 118 arrests that were made during the worst of the looting, in early June 2020, WNBC reported. Eighteen cases remain open and in the others, lesser convictions saw defendants avoid time in prison.

“Those numbers, to be honest with you, is disgusting,” Jessica Betancourt, who owns an eyeglass shop that was looted and ultimately destroyed, told the outlet.

nyc looting
Merchandise lies in a looted souvenir and electronics shop near Times Square after a night of riots in New York City on June 2, 2020. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Patrice O’Shaughnessy, director of communications for Clark’s office, told The Epoch Times in an email that for the night of looting and theft in the Fordham Road area on June 1 and June 2, there were 90 arrests. Twenty-eight were outright dismissed. Fourteen were adjourned contemplating dismissal, meaning the defendants would see their charge or charges dismissed if they did not get arrested within six months and completed certain requirements, such as community service.

The rest of the cases are pending, ended with guilty pleas, or were conditionally discharged.

“We went forward with cases for which we had evidence and a complaining witness. Some cases were dismissed but we held people accountable because we do not tolerate violence against Bronx business owners,” O’Shaughnessy said.

The New York Police Department (NYPD) did not respond to a request for comment.

Wilbur Chapman, former NYPD chief of patrol, told WNBC that prosecutors should not drop so many cases.

“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 said.

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