"The Thompson Redemption": When Will New York Prosecute Rogue NYPD Ex-Detective Louis Scarcella?

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Rogue detective Louis Scarcella

[Speaking Truth To Power]

Wearing a cap reading “Wrongly Convicted” on its front and “Victims of Detective Scarcella” on the side, a Brooklyn man who was incarcerated for 20 years celebrated the overturning of his conviction last week for a 1991 murder he didn’t commit.

Derrick Hamilton is yet another innocent victim caught in the wicked web of deceit by disgraced retired NYPD Detective Louis Scarcella, who worked out of Brooklyn’s 77 Precinct.

How many more innocent men are there sitting in prison because of Detective Scarcella’s actions and others like him? “It means the world to me to be standing here and declared innocent,” said Hamilton, 49, who was in tears after his exoneration for the murder of Nathaniel Cash, who was gunned down in Bedford-Stuyvesant.  “I’m not saying I’m not bitter. I’m containing my bitterness.”

When asked what he thinks about Detective Scarcella, Hamilton said “I believe he belongs in jail.”Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson is currently looking into some 100 cases where the convictions are suspect—70 of those cases are connected to Detective Scarcella.

Several Black men, and one White man, convicted in murder cases where Scarcella was the main investigating detective have already been exonerated. These include: half-brothers Alvena Jennette and Darryl Austin who were convicted for the 1985 killing of Ronnie Durant in Crown Heights; Robert Hill—also a brother of Austin and Jeannette—was convicted for the January 1987 murder of Donald Manboardes; and, David Ranta, a White man, was wrongfully convicted for the February 8 killing of Brooklyn Rabbi Chaskel Werzberger.

Jennette, Austin and Hill were all convicted on the “lone eyewitness” testimony of Theresa Gomez. Gomez also testified in the case of Rosean Hargrave and John Bunn who were both convicted for the 1991 killing of corrections Officer Rolando Neischer, in Crown Heights.

Derrick Hamilton had long maintained he was in Connecticut at the time of the killing of Nathaniel Cash. However, he was convicted on the “lone eyewitness” account of the victim’s girlfriend, Jewel Smith—but, in 2011, Smith recanted and even pushed for Hamilton’s release.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale called Smith’s testimony against Hamilton “unreliable, incredible and for the most part untruthful.”  “The jury goes by the evidence before it,” said Supreme Court Judge Raymond Guzman. “That a wrong has been corrected is a tribute to the justice system.”

A tribute to the justice system,” really? The fact is the justice system can take no credit here. In fact, Hamilton is walking free largely because of good journalism—in this case by the Daily News reporter who fleshed out the inconsistencies in Mr. Hamilton’s case, which also reportedly led to the examination of these 70 cases of Detective Scarcella.

Here, we should be reminded of the positive impact investigative journalism can play. In Chicago, the moratorium—impose by former Republican Governor George Ryan—on executions, were the direct result of the great work done by journalism students at Northwestern University—work that revealed the innocence of several African-American males who were on Chicago’s death row.

If corporate establishment journalism—with their vast resources—examined cases like this all over America, could you imagine how many innocent Black people, and some White people, they would find languishing in prisons?

Indeed, as Mr. Hamilton says, Detective Scarcella should be in prison. Here is a man who obviously procured “witnesses” and likely concealed evidence that caused serious damage to the lives of innocent men.

Will authorities in New York do the right thing and prosecute this devious detective?

We know Detective Scarcella isn’t the only cop using dastardly deeds to gain convictions. Retired Sergeant Michael Race, who worked out of East New York’s 75 Precinct, was also apparently involved in similar shenanigans. Race, like Scarcella, used a “lone eyewitness” to convict Everton Wagstaffe and Reginald Connor for the January 1, 1992 murder of 16-year-old Jennifer Negron.

Both men were exonerated last year—in a case where the appellate court reversed the convictions citing the “burying” of key documents and the “credibility” of “investigating detectives.”

These stories of unjust prosecutions should make us all cringe and question the integrity of the American “justice” system—especially, with regards to African-Americans males. Both of these officers should have to answer for their actions. But let’s not let these prosecutors off the hook either.

Isn'’t it clear enough they are equally corrupt in their prosecution of these cases? Didn’t the fact that Scarcella repeatedly use this same “eyewitness” raise red flags? Or, did blind ambition just overpower all notion of morals and decency? Are we to assume only crooked cops engage in “burying” evidence?

For a long time, there had been whispers of the corrupt nature of former King's County District Attorney Charles Hynes. These cases make it hard to dispute those claims. Will there be a larger probe into the actions of Mr. Hynes, his predecessor Elizabeth Holtzman, and the other prosecutors who worked under their tutelage? Will relevant authorities in New York have the integrity, and stomach, to engage in high profile prosecutions against these perverted police and prosecutors? Or are these people also “to big to jail?”

Eleven people, two of them now dead, have been cleared so far in the wider probe by new District Attorney Ken Thompson. Shouldn’t that send a shiver down the spine of every New Yorker, especially if you are Black, Latino or poor?

Last year ended with the mass protests of people fed-up with police brutality and murder in the wake of the police summary executions of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Those protests have, ironically, overshadowed the insane injustices taking place inside courtrooms—because of the underhanded activities of police and prosecutors. We need to admit that African-Americans are being attacked on all fronts by this crooked criminal “justice” system.

America’s courts are engaged in the systematic criminalization and destruction of Black America—and these cases are a part of the evidence. These incidents are not isolated as some will argue. Police policy and the “law and order” agenda is all about demonizing and incarcerating African-Americans to weaken us economically and destroy us politically.

Over the last couple weeks, certain elements in the NYPD have engaged in a type of work stoppage protest—where they’ve written less summons and made fewer arrests for low-level “crimes,” apparently, to punish Mayor Bill de Blasio who had the temerity to admit there is a problem with racist thugs who wear the police badge. Ironically, this police work stoppage makes it clear New York City is being over policed—because, the city has not descended into criminal chaos because of the slowdown in writing tickets.

Broken Windows” and “Stop-and-Frisk” seem mainly designed to criminalize Black and Brown communities and balance the city’s budget problems on our backs. It is pure bull to say—as these lying officials do—that “Broken Windows” is a tool meant to deter crime. If we’re to believe that, then, why don’t we see “Broken Windows” being used in the den of thieves that is Wall Street?

Moreover, why don’t we see it used against amoral police officers, like Scarcella and Race? Or, used against unscrupulous prosecutors who use the lives of innocent people as stepping stones to fulfill their vainglorious political aspirations? Is “zero tolerance” only to be used against the oppressed and most vulnerable?

And even the statistics provided by police through the years showed, there was no correlation between crime deterrence and “Stop-and-Frisk”; in fact, crime has plunged just as the use of “Stop-and-Frisk” has similarly declined.

Many of us have heard the phrase “justice is blind,” which is the idea that justice should be rendered without “fear or favoritism” of the political and economic status of the parties involved. This is a noble idea, which does not resemble what happens within the American reality. The harsh truth is those with wealth and political power usually don’t pay any price in these courts of so-called “justice.”

If there was real justice wouldn’t those who rob innocent people of years off their lives be called to account for their actions? If government officials expect citizens to have trust and confidence in the legal system shouldn’t they mercilessly punish and make examples of those who use their official capacities as police and prosecutors to abuse innocent people?



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