Attack on NYPD transit officers sparks criminal justice reform debate

Wednesday, July 27, 2022
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N.J. Burkett reports on the case from Lower Manhattan.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The Manhattan District Attorney's office on Tuesday defended its decision to send a 16-year-old with a criminal record to Family Court instead of prosecuting him as an adult for attacking two NYPD officers Saturday in East Harlem.

The teen was charged with two felony counts of assault on a police officer and other offenses after the officers stopped him for fare jumping at 125 St. and Lexington Av.

The teen has prior arrests for carrying a loaded gun in Brooklyn and for robbery in Manhattan. The Brooklyn case was sent to Family Court since the teen was 15 at the time. The robbery case is moving ahead.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Family Court was the appropriate place to handle the alleged assault.

"Our system must respond to children as children, and intensive community monitoring was the appropriate pre-trial determination for a fifteen-year-old child with no previous arrests. Violence against our police officers is unacceptable, and given his age at the time of arrest, we consented to send his second case to Family Court as soon as possible, where he would receive the age-appropriate interventions and supports he needs while being held accountable," the spokesperson said.

The NYPD expressed outrage at the DA's decision.

"The assault on our officers in the subway is another example of individuals emboldened by a system that, just days ago, immediately released one of them after being arrested for robbery," Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell wrote on Twitter. "Once again, they are shown that there are no consequences for violent criminality."

The case prompted political questions about a criminal justice reform measure known as raise-the-age that increases to 18 the age at which offenders are treated as adults.

"No one has the right to assault a police officer," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said while cautioning she did not have specific details about the case.

New York Mayor Eric Adams was also critical of the district attorney's decision.

"How do we keep our city safe when the other parts of the criminal justice system have abandoned our public safety apparatus. We need to look at violent offenders. And this is a clear case of that," Adams said.

MORE NEWS: New York City correction officers charged after attempted suicide at Rikers

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