New York City district attorneys have dropped looting charges against hundreds of looters who were charged for pillaging during the George Floyd protests.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has declined to prosecute more than 485 suspects who were arrested for ransacking stores in June of 2020, instead he intends to put his department’s resources towards building a fraud case against the Trump Organization.
A new report found that Vance dropped 222 looting cases, reduced 73 to lesser trespassing counts that require no jail time, and booted 40 cases involving juveniles to family court. 128 cases still remain open.
Surveillance caught many of the thieves on camera, and some were so brazen that they posted videos of their criminal acts on social media. The NYPD set up a task force to sort through the videos and tediously followed up on recovering stolen merchandise.
“We had to analyze each case individually and see if, in fact, we could prove the right person had committed the crime,” said Deputy Inspector Andrew Arias.
But Vance blamed the pandemic for slowing down the judiciary process. According to an internal memo, 600 commercial burglary arrests and more than 3,500 unindicted felony cases were clogging up the pipeline.
“For many of these commercial burglaries, you will be asked to reduce the initial felony charge to a misdemeanor and to dispose of the case … with an eye towards rehabilitation,” Vance said in the memo.
NYPD Chief of Patrol Wilbur Chapman was less than thrilled that Vance’s office let all the task force’s hard work go to waste. “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,” he said. “It allowed people who committed crimes to go scot free.”