Color of Injustice Part 2: Howard Beach Man Says He's Being Persecuted By Police And Neighbor

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[Black Star News Editorial]
The Color Of Justice

On March 1 Queen's County District Attorney Richard Brown will haul into court a Howard Beach businessman whose family once needed round-the-clock police protection due to verbal racist attacks by neighbors. 
Friday trial involves a new confrontation with another neighbor last
year. The Howard Beach businessman, Kris Gounden, says the evidence
shows he was the victim in last year's confrontation with Scott
Statland, the neighbor. Yet police and the DA now treat him as the

Three court-appointed lawyers abandoned the case and
den this week has asked that the fourth one, who does not intend to
ask his accuser to take the stand, to be taken off the case. 

believes he's a victim of persecution; part of a continuing campaign to
drive his family away from Howard Beach, since, he says, the police and
Queens County DA's office are ignoring evidence that shows Statland was
the aggressor. 

Seven years ago, when Gounden's family first
moved to Howard Beach they were the only family of color in his
neighborhood. When a neighbor hurled the N-wood and threatened to
clobber the Goundens with a baseball bat police investigated the matter
and offered protection for six months 24x7. 

Things quieted down
a little, Gounden says. Then in recent years another neighbor,
Statland, started calling officers from the 106 precinct whenever they
had a dispute, and the officers always sided with him, he contends. 

On June 12, last year, Gounden says, Statland initiated another confrontation. 
claims he was in his car with his then five-year-old son, Kris Jr.,
when Statland approached him and verbally attacked him calling his son a
"thief" and using expletives, while alleging the boy had stolen his
mail. Gounden says when he emerged from his car, Statland initiated a
shoving match; Gounden recorded the encounter on his phone camera.  

was also a witness to the encounter who later prepared an affidavit
supporting the account Gounden provided to the police. When the witness
cautioned Statland about Kris Jr., the young boy being in the car, he
responded: "I don't give a fuck who's in the car." 

Gounden says
even though he called and officers came from the 106 precinct the
officers did nothing. Then, three days later, police from the 106
precinct arrested him instead; Statland, who is White, had claimed that
it was Gounden who had assaulted him. The officers also refused to
review the recording of the encounter, he says. 

The Queens County DA also refused to review his video Gounden says.  
court-appointed lawyer told him to take a plea and Gounden refused.
Another court-appointed lawyer, Erica Holder, reviewed the video and
initially told him she would ask the DA to drop the charges. Later, to
his surprise, she asked a judge to allow her to withdraw from
representing him, Gounden says.  

"Instead of asking that the
case be dropped she later berated me and said 'What kind of person goes
around videotaping incidents'? I told her she would do the same if she
faced the kind of harassment I did," Gounden says, of Holder. 

When The Black Star News contacted Holder by phone, she threatened to sue this newspaper if she was mentioned in any article.  
The Black Star News contacted the DA's office last October to ask if
Gounden's recording had been reviewed, top spokesperson, Kevin Ryan said
via email message: "Any information or evidence that Mr. Gounden may
have regarding his criminal cases should be given to his attorney." He
added: "In addition, Mr. Gounden should contact the NYPD's Internal
Affairs Bureau regarding any difficulties he may have experienced with
NYPD officers." 

Ryan has not responded to recent email messages, including this week, about Gounden's case. 
has reported the encounter and the police's refusal to review his
recording and to arrest him based on Statland's account, to The New York
Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau and with an investigator at
the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB).  

The CCRB did not
respond to messages from The Black Star News, including to its
chairman,, Daniel Chu, asking whether Gounden's allegations had been

Shortly after his first court appearance last
year, Gounden says Statland reported to police that he had violated a
restraining order by screaming at him, resulting in another arrest and
even additional charges. "This man is allowed to abuse the criminal
justice system regardless of the evidence against him," Gounden tells
The Black Star News. "Is this the best use of tax payer money?"  

has even called ACS on my family, claiming, completely falsely, that we
abuse our children." The reference to ACS is to the Administration for
Children's Services (ACS) a New York City agency. After ACS
investigators visited Gounden, he claims on false allegations from
Statland, he wrote a letter to the ACS Commissioner to complain about
the visits. He says an ACS investigator even asked him whether he'd had
inappropriately sexual contact with his teen-age step daughter. 

ACS dismissed numerous charges Gounden, says. He said one charge, based
on Kris Jr. scraping his leg while riding his bike was sustained but
later dismissed when he appealed to Albany. 

Gounden and his
wife are Guyanese immigrants of dark-skinned ethnic Indian ancestry. The
couple has three children: Cheryl Gounden, the wife, suffered a
miscarriage shortly after her husband's arrest last year. 

the neighbor, didn't return an email message from The Black Star News
inquiring about his account of the June 12 incident.  

After the
court-appointed lawyer Holden abandoned the case, another
lawyer, Stephen A. Gargiulo. In a recent interview, Gargiulo told The
Black Star News
: "My client did nothing wrong." 

This week, on
February 26, Gounden filed papers (see below) with the court to have Gargiulo
removed from the case because the lawyer doesn't plan to subpoena
Statland and have him take the stand at trial. 

"The complainant
is the one witness he must call because the 6th Amendment gives me the
right, not him, me, the right to face my accuser," Gounden wrote, in the
filing asking that he be allowed to replace Gargiulo with a new

"How is it that I won't be allowed to confront my
accusers who is making false allegations against me to get me in
prison?" Gounden says. 

Gounden's filing also states that
Statland "did not seek medical attention for a punch and did not report a
punch to the police until after I reported him to the police."

"Lastly," Gounden wrote in his filing, "I
want my son to testify as to what he saw and what he heard. He is old
enough to know the difference between the truth and a lie, he was there and he would make a powerful witness because children of his age are not good liars and jury will not take kindly to  a grown man yelling and cursing at a five year old."

The Black Star News first wrote of the encounter in October, Paul
Browne, the NYPD's top spokesperson did not respond to written inquiries
seeking comment about Gounden's case. Similarly, Deputy Inspector
Thomas M. Pascale, the 106 precinct commander, didn't respond to a
written inquiry and a phone call seeking comment about the case.  

106 precinct's Community Affairs Officer Kenny Zorn, initially returned
an earlier call; he didn't respond when a second message was left by
The Black Star News stating that the inquiry was about the encounter
between Gounden and Statland, and how the precin
ct had handled the

Gounden suspects there may be a handful of officers at
the 106 precinct who may be manipulated by a politician unhappy that the
racist attacks against his family seven years ago had invited media
scrutiny on the neighborhood. 

On February 21, 2012 nearly four
months before the June encounter with Statland, a female officer, Peralta, from
the 106, who had come to his residence, he suspects after Statland had
called with a false complaint, ended up calling Gounden a "fucking
a video recording he made of the incident shows. 

Gounden believes the evidence show's he's not the one who should be standing trial on March 1. 

Send your comments to or if you've also experienced similar encounters.

Below is a copy of the letter Gounden filed so he can replace his court-appointed lawyer who does not plan to question his accuser Statland. (Gounden's address has been removed).

To:                                                         Dated: 2013 Feb
Criminal Court City of New York
Queens, Count

Re: People v Gounden

        Index No. 2012QN032967
        Index No. 2012Qn38341

Request For New Attorney
Request to Choose A Non 18-b Attorney To Be Paid With 18-b or Special Funds

After my communications my attorney it appears to me that my attorney
it appears that:

[1] The ADA intends not to call the complaining witness and my
attorney intends not to subpoena the complaining witness, on our
direct case, over my 6th Amendment objection, and

[2] My attorney intends to instruct my witness to answer pre-trial
questions of the ADA over my objection, and

[3] Doesn’t intend to pre-trial question the complaining witness.

[4] Does not intend to call my son as a witness

Without question Stateland’s video clearly shows that we are standing
next to my car in the middle of the street. I am telling him several
times, and he never refutes it, that he came over to me. Because cars
are usually in the middle of the street the video has a tendency to
make the material fact that I did not approach Stateland more probable
than my not approaching him would be without the video.

Stateland’s video shows me twice backing up from him, opening my car
door stepping toward entering my car. My second back-up shows the car
door closing toward me before I am seated in my car. These two
“back-ups”, without question, while Stateland never backed up, have a
tendency to make the material fact of my less-aggressiveness more
probable than my less-aggressiveness would be without the video.

During the off-camera action it is not clear who did what but we know
Stateland did not seek medical attention for a punch and did not
report a punch to the police until after I reported him to the police.
Certainly he does not talk like someone who was just punched in the

Stateland in the video clearly says he has a right to stand in the
middle of the street. He has the right to stand on the sidewalk. He
does not have the right to stand in the middle of the street.

Stateland’s video clearly demonstrates that a third party has
intervened and has said something to Stateland about the child in the
car and that Stateland says “i don’t give a fuck who’s in the car.”
That statement shows his utter disregard for the welfare of five year

I have given you pictures and video of Stateland approaching me.

Defense attorneys dream of having pictographic and video taped
evidence of [1] a suspect not approaching the complainant, and [2] the
suspect retreating from the complainant, twice, [3] the complainant
begging to be hit, [4] no language demonstrating a hit, and [5] a
grown adult saying, in the presence and earshot of a five year old, “i
don’t give a fuck who’s in the car.”

His reason for not wanting to subpoena the complaining witness
because then only my witness’ testimony will be heard is ludicrous and
mocks my 6th Amendment right to face his accuser. The complainant is
the one witness he must call because the 6th amendment gives me, not
him, ME!, the right to face my accuser and the fifth amendment doesn’t
give him the right to take MY face-off right away from me in the name
of a strategy that throws away evidence, unquestionably favorable to

His intentions not to call the complaining witness are way below the
standard of an attorney. I’m not a lawyer but I am informed that they
call it idiotic assistance of counsel. I need counsel that respects my
6th Amendment rights to face my accuser and not a lawyer who, under
the guise of strategy, is willing to give up my 6th Amendment right.

In that the complaining must be called if the ADA does not call the
complaining witness, a competent attorney would also subpoena his
criminal history.

As to your intention to instruct my witness to answer the district
attorney’s questions, I do not believe you that the DA usually gets to
question a defendant’s witnesses pre-trial.

I do not agree with your plan to instruct my witness to answer the
DA’s questions before trial for the purpose of the DA seeing if they
want to drop the case. If the DA wants to force my witness to answer
questions pre-trial, then let the DA subpoena my witness to a
pre-trial answer session. Of course, you already know the DA has no
such power to subpoena my witness to a pre-trial answer session. That
is why you are trying to scam me into agreeing with my witness being
questioned pre-trial. That, in my mind, is another example of idiotic
assistance of counsel.

As to you not saying anything about pre-trial questioning of the
complaining witness, it is obvious that you want to and are willing
provide the DA with an opportunity that you yourself are not willing
to seek. This is another example of idiotic assistance of counsel.

As to my criminal history, you appear to suggest that you will not
oppose the introduction of my criminal history. First of all my
convictions were over ten years old. Secondly, I have no conviction
for perjury so my convictions are not admissible to question my
truthfulness. I have no pattern of convictions based on punching
people in the face so my convictions are not admissible for modus
operandi purposes. The only conclusion I draw is that you intend to
allow the ADA to introduce my criminal history as evidence that I have
a propensity to commit crime, even thought the convictions and the
present charge have extremely different elements. This too is an
example of idiotic assistance of counsel.

 As to the video given to you by the ADA, you’re not sure if it is
relevant? Relevant evidence means having any tendency to make a
material fact more or less probable than the material fact would be
without the evidence. Does the ADA’s video make me allegedly punching
the complainant more probable than the alleged punch would be without
the video?

Lastly, I want my son to testify as to what he saw and what he heard.
He is old enough to know the difference between the truth and a lie,
he was there, and he would make a powerful witness because children of
his age are not good liars and a jury will not take kindly to a grown
man yelling and cursing at a five year old.

I’m sending this letter to the judge to get an attorney who won’t
waive my rights.

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