Queens Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Fatally Stabbing Fellow Parks Employee

The Al Oerter Recreation Center in Queens, where the stabbing took place.
Robert Swann and Ezra Black worked together for two weeks at Flushing Meadows Park. They were seasonal employees for the city's Parks Department. They worked as custodians. Over those two weeks, Swann later claimed, Black bullied him. On September 4, 2012, Swann fatally stabbed Black, who was 31.

Earlier this month a Queens jury convicted Swann, who is now 53, of first-degree manslaughter. And on Monday Queens Supreme Court judge Ira Margulis sentenced Swann to 25 years in prison, the maximum sentence for the charge.

Swan had worked at the park for five months. The troubles began, however, when he began working side-by-side with Black in August 2012. In his statement to police, Swann said that Black called him names and threatened him, and that he complained to his supervisors about this. Two of those supervisors, however, testified that they never knew about the conflict.

According to prosecutors, Swann pulled out the knife after Black ordered him to pick up a garbage bag in a lot behind Al Oerter Recreation Center.

When Swann confronted Black, Black took a swing at him, Swann claimed in his statement. So he stabbed him in the stomach. He then fled the scene, tossing away the knife and clothes he was wearing in a grassy field at the park.

Police found him that day. Upon arrest, Swann admitted to the crime, prosecutors said.

"I was scared and mad, he threatened me one too many times. I should have just smacked him in the face, but I didn't," Swann told the police, the New York Post reported. "He was so, so disrespectful to everyone, the supervisors, the other workers, everyone! All these nice people it's not right."

The jury acquitted him on charges of criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with physical evidence. The manslaughter conviction carried a sentencing range of five to 25 years.

"The defendant has now been held accountable for his senseless actions and will spend considerable time behind bars for resorting to violence and taking an innocent life," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement.

Send story tips to the author, Albert Samaha

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Dick Brown can shove it right where his name suggests. This guy was an asshole and he deserved it. There are people out there who are like this all of the time and honestly, they deserve what's coming to them. Good luck, Mr. Swaan.


Hi, I would like to know if you were employed there? I.worked there 9 months after the murder took place as a seasonal employee and I was relentlessly bullied by a long time coworker. I reported it and nothing was done at all. On september 20th, 2013 at 2:47pm, the same bully hurt me and was belligerent in front of a guest at the gym, this happened right on camera at the front desk. My.right hand was bleeding a little and I complained. Nothing was done. Im.sure the two managers would say, "we knew nothing of any conflict". Again, nothing was done. I so sorry for all involved because bullying, workplace abuse is horrible. Robert Swann was a victim of it and those managers did nothing at all. They could have transferred one of them for their safety. That death is on their hands. I was a victim of the same type of environment that left me in a deep depression wanting to take matters in my own hands and hurt myself, the verbal abuse, humiliation was unbearable. They did nothing to help me and they did nothing to help Robert Swann.

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