Elected Officials Call On Staten DA To Drop Man’s Charges Following Drug Planting Allegations

Elected Officials Call On Staten DA To Drop Man’s Charges Following Drug Planting Allegations

Elected officers and public defenders are calling on Staten Island District Legal professional Michael McMahon to drop his workplace’s costs in opposition to Jason Serrano, a person who accused an NYPD officer of planting marijuana whereas looking out a automotive he was using in.

The calls for come days after a choose vacated Serrano’s conviction citing physique digicam footage exhibiting the obvious drug planting and police data, obtained by Gothamist/WNYC, exhibiting the identical officer had been disciplined for improperly invoicing drug seizures after arrests the identical 12 months.

Prosecutors by no means turned over these disciplinary data to Serrano. On the time of his arrest for drug possession, resisting arrest, and obstructing governmental administration, Serrano was injured. He stated he finally agreed to a plea settlement, which decreased his costs to only resisting arrest, to keep away from going to Rikers in his debilitated state.

Jumaane Williams, New York Metropolis’s public advocate, criticized Serrano’s arresting officers and the Staten Island District Legal professional’s workplace for “ignoring” the officers’ “egregious misconduct.”

“Both have willfully obstructed and denied justice without regard for the harm being caused, or consequences for the perpetrator of that harm,” Williams stated. “That harm can never be entirely undone, nor can the erosion of trust that it perpetuates. Overturning Jason Serrano’s wrongful conviction was a clear, if inadequate, necessity – now the case should be entirely dismissed and the officers involved face accountability.”

In response to such calls, the Staten Island district attorney’s office said it had received and was reviewing the judge’s decision. The office also noted that it had previously cleared the officer in question, Kyle Erickson, of any criminal activity following an internal review.

“As always, RCDA remains committed to the fair administration of justice on Staten Island and will continue working tirelessly to keep our communities safe,” DA McMahon stated in a earlier assertion.

Marion Elizabeth Campbell, one in every of Serrano’s attorneys on the Authorized Support Society, stated she was “mystified and outraged” that the district legal professional’s workplace seems to wish to defend Erickson, who was beforehand accused of planting medicine earlier that 12 months throughout a separate automotive cease that was additionally caught on police physique digicam.

“We again call on prosecutors to dismiss this case at once in the interest of justice,” she stated.

A number of different elected officers expressed outrage on the incident, which they argue factors to the necessity to reform New York’s legislation on wrongful conviction claims.

At present, New York judges can vacate a responsible trial verdict if a defendant has come ahead with newly found proof proving their precise innocence. However New York’s excessive court docket has held that judges would not have this energy with regards to responsible pleas, besides in instances when the defendant has exonerating DNA proof.

On this court docket choice, Choose Tamiko Amaker famous that Serrano’s attorneys’ claims that the NYPD physique digicam footage proved Serrano was truly harmless was not a floor for reduction obtainable to Serrano.

Nonetheless, the choose vacated the conviction anyway, holding that the video and the withheld disciplinary recordsdata confirmed that Erickson’s automotive search could have violated Serrano’s constitutional rights.

“Jason Serrano has airtight evidence–a video of police planting drugs on him–yet New York’s broken law bars him from claiming actual innocence because he pleaded guilty,” stated Dan Quart, a Manhattan Assemblymember, who’s sponsoring the invoice. “A judge was able to vacate his conviction based on violations of ‘search and seizure’ but that still doesn’t fully clear his name.”

To give judges extra latitude to vacate different doubtlessly wrongful convictions on the premise of precise innocence, Quart and different progressive Democrats in Albany are pushing for the Difficult Wrongful Convictions Act, which might enable defendants to have their convictions vacated based mostly on new proof not offered or obtainable at trial.

“There’s plenty of other cases where constitutional violations aren’t caught on tape. Other states allow relief to people who plead guilty without DNA,” stated Brooklyn State Senator Zellnor Myrie, the invoice’s senate sponsor. “There is no reason why we shouldn’t as well. It sickens me how big of a factor chance was in this case.”

Not like Public Advocate Williams, Assemblymember Quart, and State Senator Myrie, Deborah Rose, Staten Island’s solely Democratic council member, didn’t reply to questions on whether or not she believes Staten Island prosecutors ought to drop their costs in opposition to Serrano.

In an electronic mail Rose did, nonetheless, voice help for the Difficult Wrongful Convictions Act.

“Common sense dictates that Mr. Serrano should be considered innocent of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice in light of the fact that those two charges were instigated by a drug possession arrest that has been deemed improper by a judge,” she stated.

For the reason that incident, DA McMahon’s workplace famous that Erickson has not made one other arrest in Staten Island. Erickson didn’t reply to requests for remark submitted to his union.

In an announcement, the NYPD stated Erickson has retired from the drive.

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