Eric Garner's Death: How a Video Undermines a Police Narrative

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The NYPD's internal report about the death of Eric Garner explained what happened through the eyes of the officers at the scene. As the Daily News first reported, one officer said that Garner "resisted arrest" while being apprehended in Staten Island last week. He was "struggling" with Officers Justin Damico and Daniel Pantaleo, who "attempted to place him in handcuffs."

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City Will Pay $2.75 Million to Family of Killed Rikers Inmate

Ronald Spear was arrested and charged with burglary in September 2012. He awaited trial at Rikers Island. He was 52-years-old and had health problems. He had a kidney disease and he walked with a cane. He needed dialysis and other treatment.

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Fromer BK D.A. Charles Hynes Must Testify in Cy Greene's Wrongful Conviction Lawsuit

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Wikimedia Commons
Former BK DA Charles Hynes
In 2006, a judge vacated the conviction of Cy Greene, who had spent more than 22 years in prison for a 1983 murder in Brooklyn. Greene had produced evidence suggesting that prosecutors had hidden information pointing to his innocence.

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The Jabbar Collins Case is Far From Over

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Wikimedia Commons
On Thursday, New York state agreed to pay Jabbar Collins $3 million for his 16-year wrongful imprisonment. It was the latest in a string of high-profile, high-priced settlements this year stemming from wrongful convictions in New York city during the crack era. In January, the city agreed to pay David Ranta $6.4 million for 23-year wrongful imprisonment. In June, the city announced a $140 million settlement with the five men wrongfully convicted of raping a woman in Central Park. The Central Park Five each received $1 million for every year behind bars, the highest rate the city had ever paid.

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Driver Who Killed Pedestrian in Police Chase Was Not "Depraved" Because He Tried to Avoid Collision, Court Rules

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edans via Compfight cc
In April 2009, 28-year-old Jose Maldonado hot-wired a mini-van and led police on a car chase through Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Maldonado ran a red light on Manhattan Avenue and hit 37-year-old Violetta Krzyzak, who lived nearby. She died.

Maldonado crashed into parked cars three blocks away and police arrested him. He was convicted of multiple charges. The most serious charge was "depraved indifference murder," which counts as murder in the second degree.

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Bronx D.A.'s Office Opposes Richard Rosario's Actual Innocence Motion

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Courtesy Rosario Family
Richard Rosario and his daughter Amanda.
In March, Richard Rosario filed a motion to vacate his murder conviction. The appeal was based on "actual innocence," which essentially means that Rosario sought to prove that new evidence showed that he was innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. Rosario, whose case we detailed in a feature story earlier this month, has claimed that he was in Florida on the day 17-year-old Jorge Collazo was shot and killed in the Bronx in 1996. His motion included testimonies from seven people and newly discovered police documents that supported his alibi.

A Bronx Supreme Court judge gave the Bronx District Attorney's Office 90 days to investigate Rosario's claims and determine whether it would defend the conviction. Those 90 days came to an end last week. And at a hearing on Thursday, the D.A.'s office declared that it opposed Rosario's motion and would fight his appeal.

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Enforcer in Orthodox Jewish Divorce Extortion Operation Pleads Guilty

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Brian Stauffer
On October 9 2013, the FBI arrested eight men inside a warehouse in New Jersey. Inside, the men had with them feather quills, ink bottles, and a writing board. They also had rope, plastic bags, a screwdriver, and surgical blades. The men, federal prosecutors charged, were planning to kidnap an Orthodox Jewish man and assault him until he agreed to grant his wife a get, the document required for a divorce under Jewish law.

The man they were allegedly targeting, however, did not exist. The men had been pulled into an FBI sting operation focused on Mendel Epstein, the suspected leader of the divorce extortion operation.

Sholom Shuchat was one of the eight men arrested in the warehouse. On Monday he became the fifth among them to plead guilty to charges that he participated in the plot.

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Bank Robber Demands Only $100 from Tellers, Fails

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Not every bank robbery is as dramatic as in Dog Day Afternoon.
Bank robbery, in general, is crime of volume. Less than five percent of thieves crack the safe. The great majority, focused on getting out of the building as quickly as possible, target the money with the tellers at the counter. The average take of a bank robbery is $4,000. The big money, as history has shown, goes to the bandits who master the criminal art and execute a steady string of heists.

Volume was certainly the strategy of the bank robber suspected of striking seven banks across New York City within three days last week. This man's aim, however, did not appear to be big money. The note he handed tellers demanded just $100.

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Central Park Five Settlement: From a Tough on Crime Era to an Era of Reconciliation

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On Thursday, the men wrongfully convicted of the 1989 rape and assault of a jogger in Central Park agreed to a $40 million settlement with the city. The amount corresponds to the roughly 40 total years the men, known Collectively as the "Central Park Five," spent in prison after their conviction. Based on this calculation, Karey Wise, who spent 13 years in prison, the most among the five, will receive the most money the city has ever paid for a wrongful conviction.

The crime was high profile, and so were the trial, the eventual exonerations, and the long battle for a monetary settlement.

When the men were arrested, the city's (and the country's) primary criminal justice concern was public safety. It was the tough-on-crime era. As they reached their settlement, the criminal justice headlines are focused on wrongful convictions. It is an era of reconciliation and of learned lessons.

And now the city is trying to figure out how to apply those lessons.

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Why Courts Have Denied Richard Rosario's Appeal Despite Six Witnesses Claiming He's Innocent

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mikecogh via Compfight cc
This week's feature story, about the daughter of a prisoner convicted of murder, details the legal case of Richard Rosario. Rosario has claimed that he was in Florida on the day Jorge Collazo was murdered in June 1996.

He gave his public defender, Joyce Hartsfield, a list of 13 people who could back up his alibi. Hartsfield requested funding to send an investigator to Florida to interview the potential witnesses. The judge, Hartsfield believed, denied the request. As a result, only two witnesses appeared at trial to testify that Rosario had been in Florida. The prosecutor match those alibi witnesses with two eye witnesses, and argued that the alibi witnesses were lying to protect Rosario. The jury agreed.

The judge, however, had actually approved Hartsfield's request. Hartsfield's unfortunate error formed the basis of Rosario's 2004 appeal, citing "inadequate defense representation."

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