Mayor De Blasio Urges Court System To Fully Reopen, Cites 'Huge Backlog' In Violent Crimes
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – After another bloody weekend of gun violence, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea are pointing fingers at the court system.
Both men say indictments have to be brought and trials held to get the bad guys off the street.
CBS2's political reporter Marcia Kramer has the story.
The heartbreaking funeral of 1-year-old gun violence victim Davell Gardner Jr., a treasured teddy bear and Elmo doll atop the casket, crystallizes the problem facing New York City - unrelenting bloodshed.
LINK: Tracking Shootings In NYC
Shootings victims are up 81% this year. It was another weekend of spiraling gun crimes, including 29 shooting incidents, compared to nine in 2019. There were 34 victims, compared to 11 last year.
"Because we're facing a perfect storm – and no one can doubt that – all of the combined crises and trauma together have created an abhorrent situation, where we saw crime uptick and a lot of the normal realities weren't there to address it. We've got to fix that now," he said Monday. "We also have to restart all the pieces of the criminal justice system to make sure that, God forbid, someone has committed an act of violence and means to do harm to their community members, that we can do something about it."
De Blasio, safe behind protective barricades around Gracie Mansion where he lives and the park next door, blames the court system, which has been partially shut down during the pandemic, for the fact that the people with the guns are still on the street.
WATCH: Mayor De Blasio Holds Daily Briefing On Crime And Coronavirus
"You can't adjudicate the case until there's a trial and that determines whether someone should be allowed to be on the streets or not," de Blasio said.
De Blasio cited a "huge backlog" of cases involving violent crimes, saying only 50% of firearms charges have reached the point of indictment.
Police Commissioner Shea says its made his job much harder.
"In the last four months, I would ask somebody to answer the question: How many people had a court case disposed of which resulted in them being sentenced to prison or Rikers Island?" Shea said. "We have 2,000 about 2,100 gun cases in the last two years so they're still open, half of them indicted and almost all of them are are walking around next to you and me on the street."
A spokesperson for the Office of Court Administration conceded the police commissioner's point: Very few of those charged in gun cases have been sentenced. But he insisted that despite the mayor's impatience, reopening has to be done carefully put to protect people from getting sick.
"We have been working to reestablish full court operations, including jury trials. While New York City still does not allow indoor dining, the mayor blithely asks us to call in thousands of people a week citywide for jury duty. Clearly he has absolutely no understanding of how the criminal justice system works," said spokesman Lucian Chalfen.
The mayor sent a letter to the chief judge and the district attorneys to make the point that it will take more than the NYPD to stop the gun violence. He asked for a meeting.
"What can the city of New York do to help each of you and all of your colleagues to get this right? Because, again, just a little beginning of the court system won't get it done. We need to find a way to get back to full strength," he said. "There are obvious issues of health and safety. We want to help. We have a lot of spaces we can make available, personnel to help address the health and safety issues."
But a meeting sometime in the future won't stop the gun violence or bring back victims like little Davell Gardner.
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