Update: DC Superior Court Judge Danya Dayson dismissed the charges against 39-year-old Cotey Wynn in February of 2021 and said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with the 2017 murder.
Washington, DC – A longtime criminal recruited by DC Attorney General Karl Racine to help run his “Cure the Streets” anti-violence program has been charged with murder.
Cotey Wynn, 39, already had a string of arrests under his belt when Racine’s office tapped him for the position back in 2018, to include felony murder, possession to distribute crack cocaine, first-degree murder, and distribution of a controlled substance, WUSA reported.
Wynn told the news outlet last year that he served a decade in prison before winning the appeal that resulted in his release in 2014.
“I was born and raised in the Trinidad Community and I used to be part of the problem,” he said in 2019. “I still have a bullet in my neck.”
In fact, Wynn said he has been shot five times in his life.
Since being recruited by the attorney general’s office as a member of Cure the Streets, Wynn has worked his way into a supervisor of Ward 5, which has him overseeing six outreach workers and violence interrupters.
“In the community, the same people who saw me do wrong now they see me doing right,” he told WUSA in 2019. “It’s a big impact because they love what I’m doing, you know, basically keep the violence down in Trinidad.”
The program treats gun violence as a public health issue.
They respond by trying to stop altercations before they happen, attempting to mediate the situation, and then connecting people to the resources they need, according to the news outlet.
On Friday, police arrested Wynn for second-degree murder while armed in connection with the 2017 shooting death of 53-year-old Eric Wright, WUSA reported.
He was under the supervision of the Pretrial Services Agency for DC when he was apprehended, according to police.
Investigators also questioned Wynn about Wright’s murder shortly after it occurred, The Washington Post reported.
He was under arrest for drug charges at the time.
“This ain’t my first rodeo,” he declared during questioning, according to police. “I already know my rights.”
According to court documents, Wynn used most of the interaction as an opportunity “to brag about criminal cases he had previously beat,” The Washington Post reported.
He denied knowing anything about Wright’s murder, but admitted he was in the area when the homicide took place, according to police.
Racine’s office confirmed Wynn’s arrest on Saturday, but was quick to note that the homicide occurred prior to Wynn being recruited for the program, WUSA reported.
“The Office of the Attorney General is aware of Mr. Wynn’s arrest for a homicide he is alleged to have committed in 2017, prior to his employment with Cure the Streets,” a spokesperson from Racine’s office said. “This case will now proceed through our criminal justice system where Mr. Wynn is presumed innocent. We are confident that justice will be served once this process is complete.”
“Our hearts go out to the family of Mr. Wright, the victim in this case, and to the affected members of the community,” the attorney general’s spokesperson added. “The important work of the Cure the Streets team will continue.”
Racine told The Washington Post during an interview on Saturday that he has known Wynn for two years.
He described him as an “extremely diligent” worker who is “highly respected by his teammates and his community.”
“He’s a conscientious, hard-working individual,” Racine insisted. “We certainly weren’t aware of any matter related to the subject of his arrest yesterday and…our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We certainly understand the justice system has a process that it must go through, and we are confident of the criminal justice system in the District of Columbia.”
During a remote court hearing over the weekend, Wynn’s public defender, Pierce Suen, argued that his client no longer poses a threat, The Washington Post reported.
“He’s a respected member of his community,” Suen said. “Because of the role that he plays in this neighborhood, I think the court can readily find that he is in fact not a danger. Quite the opposite. He actively works to prevent dangerous situations here in the District.”
He further noted that Wynn has developed “a deep network of connections” due to his work with the program, to include establishing relationships with “the mayor, AG Karl Racine and contacts with the city council,” The Washington Post reported.
Suen’s arguments failed to sway the judge, who ultimately ordered Wynn be held at least until his next hearing on Dec. 24.