Brooklyn’s top prosecutor said Thursday that he consented to the release of five suspects in an alleged gang rape of an 18- year-old woman in a playground because the case was so difficult to unravel that he needed more time to figure out what really happened.
“Because we are determined to get to the truth about what happened in that park, we need more time to investigate this complex case and gather more evidence. So, therefore, we have consented to the defendants’ release,” Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement.
Thompson’s staffers are scheduled to appear in criminal court Friday to give an update on the probe and are expected to say the defendants have agreed to give prosecutors six months to get indictments.
“It is a very difficult case, it is not what they thought it was,” said Ken Montgomery, attorney for defendant Denzel Murray, 14. “They are doing the right thing, not rushing to judgment.”
Thompson’s statement came just hours after NYPD Commissioner William Bratton told reporters that detectives were still investigating to determine what happened Jan. 7 in a Brownsville park. It was then cops said that the woman, who had been drinking in Osborn Playground with her father, was allegedly attacked and raped by five teenage boys who forced the dad away at gunpoint.
“The first story is never the last story,” Bratton said. “In this case that is certainly the case, or will prove to be the case.”
Bratton said cops and prosecutors would “go where the truth takes them, and try to get there as quickly as possible.”
The four other teens charged in the case are Ethan Phillip, 15, Shaquell Cooper, 15, Onandi Brown, 17, and Travis Beckford, 17, the NYPD said. All five Brooklyn teenagers face charges of rape in the first degree, sexual abuse and related crimes. Murray, Phillip and Beckford were already out on bail. Brown was expected to be released late Thursday and Cooper was being held on another case.
Thursday’s comments by Thompson and Bratton seemed aimed at preparing politicians and the public for a more lengthy investigation into a brutal sex crime that prompted criticism about the NYPD’s lack of speed in disclosing the incident to the community.
Police said they were investigating allegations by two of the suspects that the woman was having sex with her father. Defense attorneys maintain any sex was consensual.
Bratton said DNA analysis of a rape kit had not been completed.
A law enforcement source said a smartphone video of the incident was inconclusive but that the audio seemed to incriminate some of the suspects.