The Brooklyn district attorney’s office wants to vacate nearly 400 criminal convictions tied to 13 dirty NYPD officers.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said he didn’t find misconduct in the cases, but his prosecutors “no longer have confidence” in the work of the officers — who were convicted of crimes running the gamut from perjury to planting drugs to accepting bribes.
Gonzalez’s office referred to the move as the sixth-largest mass dismissal of convictions in U.S. history.
Prosecutors were in Brooklyn Supreme Court Wednesday afternoon to request dismissals in 47 felony cases, and will do the same for 331 misdemeanor cases in Brooklyn Criminal Court later this month.
“These former police officers were found to have committed serious misconduct that directly relates to their official job duties, calling into question the integrity of every arrest they have made,” Gonzalez said. “A thorough review by my conviction review unit identified those cases in which their testimony was essential to proving guilt, and I will now move to dismiss those convictions as I no longer have confidence in the integrity of the evidence that underpinned them.”
Most of the cases involved drug-related charges.
The majority of the dismissals, 134 in total, were from cases built by former narcotics cop Jerry Bowens, who is serving a 40-year prison sentence after fatally shooting his estranged girlfriend and wounding her friend.
A year before the 2009 shooting, Bowens was indicted on charges he stole crack from drug suspects to give it to informants.
He was one of four cops convicted in a massive scandal involving the Brooklyn South narcotics squad. More than half of the cases Gonzalez is moving to dismiss are linked to those four cops.
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Prosecutors are also moving to dismiss 60 cases involving Eddie Martins, one of two detectives accused of raping a former Brooklyn woman, who goes by the alias Anna Chambers, in the back of a police van in 2018.
The rape charges against Martins and his partner Richard Hall were dropped in March 2019 because of “credibility issues” the Brooklyn DA’s office had with Chambers, but the duo pleaded guilty to bribery and official misconduct in exchange for five years’ probation. Chambers has since filed a civil lawsuit against the city and the two ex-detectives.
Gonzalez’s office is seeking to dismiss 18 cases built by Hall.
Another 43 cases involved former Detective Oscar Sandino, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman inside a bathroom at the 110th Precinct stationhouse in Queens after he arrested her in 2006, and performing a lewd act in front of a woman prisoner in a secluded area of Brooklyn Criminal Court in 2009.
Prosecutors are also moving to dismiss 27 cases by Michael Foder, a disgraced former detective who was sentenced in 2019 to three months behind bars for perjury. He carried out unofficial photo lineups on WhatsApp, then falsified paperwork to make it look like he did them by the book, and lied under oath about how he identified perpetrators in a federal carjacking case.
Elizabeth Felber of the Legal Aid Society lauded Gonzalez’s decision, and urged prosecutors across the city to continue reviewing convictions as a matter of policy.
“While we applaud this decision, the people prosecuted in these cases were forced to endure hardships that should never have happened to begin with,” Felber said. “Some individuals lost years of their lives serving prison sentences and many suffered collateral harm including housing instability, loss of employment and severed access to critical services, all because of the words of these corrupt police officers.”