Hours after a deadly Brooklyn hit-and-run collision sparked by drivers attempting to flee police, Mayor Eric Adams on Saturday night railed against the state’s criminal justice system for continuing to let repeat, violent offenders back on the streets.
Though the investigation remains ongoing, Adams – a former police officer — expressed certainty that the suspects involved in the wreck likely have prior criminal histories, and were allowed back on the streets to put New Yorkers at risk.
“Each time we catch people who carry out these dangerous actions on innocent people, we find they have one thing in common,” Adams said on June 25 during a press conference at the scene of the Bedford-Stuyvesant collision. “They’ve gone through the criminal justice system and they are able to return to our streets and carry out the crimes over and over again.”
Saturday’s collision happened at about 7:10 p.m. on June 25, after officers from the 81st Precinct attempted to stop a vehicle with mismatched license plates along Ralph Avenue near Chauncey Street.
According to Assistant Chief Judith Harrison, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn North, the drivers of the vehicle in question took off at a very high rate of speed. Seconds later, they struck a grandmother and an 8-year-old child as they crossed Ralph Avenue, along with two bicyclists.
Two people inside the vehicle fled, but a third individual was apprehended and brought in for questioning, according to published reports. Charges against that individual are pending.
Meanwhile, the grandmother — Lynn Christopher, 67, of MacDonough Street — died of her injuries, and the 8-year-old child is at Maimonides Medical Center in critical condition, Harrison said.
“The video that I observed is chilling for anyone that lives in this community,” Mayor Adams remarked of footage showing the deadly collision. “This is my community, I live blocks from here. I patronize these stores. These are my neighbors. No one deserves to walk across the street with their grandchild and to be struck [in] a crash that took the life of a grandparent.”
Mismatched license plates are an obvious sign of auto theft, something which the 81st Precinct has struggled to stop, according to the mayor. Through June 19, according to the precinct’s CompStat report, the 81st Precinct has seen an 83.8% year-to-date surge in grand larceny autos (Adams had said at the press conference grand larceny autos were up 100% in the 81), helping to drive an overall major crime increase of 20%.
The problem, as Mayor Adams sees it, is that those picked up for auto thefts or even fleeing from police for suspected auto thefts are no longer being held on bail.
“We have cases where someone is arrested 18 times for GLA, and they’re back on the streets. When are we gonna connect the dots?” an exacerbated Adams said.
“We’re feeding this crime problem in this city, over and over again,” the mayor added. “A small number of bad people think they can do bad things and get out of jail because we have a bad criminal justice system.”
Adams called upon state lawmakers to “do a real analysis of the repeated crimes that the same people are taking”; for months, he’s been urging Albany lawmakers to re-examine the bail reform law and seek new ways to tighten it and keep more violent criminals off the streets.
Even so, the city’s own data — as advocates who support the bail reform laws enacted in 2020 — suggest that the rate of crime has nothing to do with recidivism.
A report that the city released in December 2021 found that 99% of the nearly 45,000 people awaiting a resolution on their case were not rearrested on a violent felony, and 96% were not rearrested at all.
Additionally, in April, Governor Kathy Hochul and the state legislature agreed to modest changes to the bail reform law, giving judges greater authority to hold individuals arrested for minor thefts or property damage offenses.
Still, in the wake of Saturday’s hit-and-run, the mayor implored prosecutors and judges around the city to better exercise their discretion, when they can, to keep criminals locked up for serious offenses.
Doing so, Adams said, would have a dramatic impact on making Bedford-Stuyvesant and other New York City communities.
“This is a stable, safe community if you rid it from those who are committing these repeated crimes in our city,” the mayor observed.
In the meantime, police asked the public to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA), visit crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or send a message on Twitter @NYPDTips if they have any information regarding the deadly Brooklyn hit-and-run.