By Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone
New York, NY – New York City Mayor Eric Adams blasted the state’s lax bail-reform laws during a press conference on Tuesday, saying they have made the city “the laughingstock of the country” while also placing the safety of New York residence at risk time and time again.
Adams specifically referred to a now-viral video that showed a 16-year-old boy violently attacking and choking a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer at a subway station on July 23, WNYW reported.
The teen was released back onto the streets in less than 24 hours.
Adams said the same suspect had been arrested on a robbery charge just days before the attack, but that he was released without bail in that incident as well, WNYW reported.
He also had a prior arrest for possession of a loaded gun, the mayor said.
“When I say ‘we are the laughingstock of the country’, this is what I’m talking about,” Adams told reporters, according to WNYW. “How do we keep our cities safe when the other parts of the criminal justice system, they have abandoned our public safety apparatus?”
The brazen attack is just further evidence that the state’s so-called bail reform measures have failed, according to the mayor.
The criminal justice system in New York has become a pattern of “catch, release, repeat,” he ranted.
Adams has been urging the state legislature to hold an emergency session to help stop the surge of violence sweeping New York City, WNYW reported.
“Let’s reexamine the bail laws in the area of violent offenders,” he said, adding that 16- and 17-year-old offenders charged with gun crimes should be eligible for prosecution as adults.
As of right now, “anything goes in the city of New York,” Adams added, according to the New York Post. “The most important city on the globe has become the laughing stock of the globe. And the dysfunctionality of our city has cascaded throughout the entire country.”
The incident that spurred Adams’ most recent calls for change to the state’s bail laws occurred on July 23 in the 125th Street-Lexington Avenue subway station in East Harlem, WNYW reported.
“The 16-year-old male became verbally aggressive for over three minutes with officers,” an NYPD spokesperson said. “The officers attempted to take the 16-year-old male into custody when he began to assault the officers.”
The cell phone video filmed by a bystander showed the teen violently attacking officers were who were trying to take him into custody.
The teen punched the male officer in the head repeatedly as they struggled to detain him, the video showed.
Then a female friend of the suspect jumped into the fray and attacked the officer who was struggling with the teen boy.
The female officer on the scene tried to pull the teen girl out of the altercation and was attacked by her, the video showed.
The video showed the female officer struggling with the teen girl while the teen boy threw punches one after the other at the male officer.
The suspect threw the officer into a metal gate and then body-slammed him into the tile floor.
The officer continued to fight and sat back up.
That was when the video showed the teen suspect put his arms around the officer’s neck in a chokehold.
But before the teen could get a good grip, the officer pushed himself up from the ground and pinned the boy against the gate, the video showed.
Another officer who had arrived on the scene appeared to try to help the first officer but then he was out of it as the teen tried to break free and the first officer took him to the ground yet again.
The video showed the boy was bleeding from the face as he continued to resist the three officers who were struggling to get his arms so they could handcuff him.
He was ultimately arrested and charged with multiple crimes including assault on a police officer, WNYW reported.
The NYPD Police Benevolent Association (PBA) announced that the teen suspect who attacked the officer was back on the streets in less than 24 hours.
“If New Yorkers want to know why the chaos in the transit system is not improving more quickly — this is why. The criminals underground know they can get in a brawl, choke a cop and be back out in hours…” PBA President Patrick Lynch tweeted.
This individual has been RELEASED 🤦♂️
Lynch: “If New Yorkers want to know why the chaos in the transit system is not improving more quickly — this is why. The criminals underground know they can get in a brawl, choke a cop and be back out in hours…” 1/2
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) July 25, 2022
“Cops are putting ourselves on the line to make the subways safer, but we are feeling abandoned by a justice system that won’t back us up,” Lynch continued in a second tweet.
The chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) had much the same reaction, WABC reported.
“I don’t understand how the law would permit that guy to be released-when he has two priors that he’s already out on the street for – to have him immediately released for that attack on a police officer,” MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said.
“I don’t get it. I know our riders don’t get it,” Lieber added.
NYPD Transit Chief Jason Wilcox said that assaults on officers in the New York subway system have skyrocketed this year, WABC reported.
“We have seen over a 55 percent increase in assaults on police officers this year. The majority of these assaults on our officers began as officers were engaging persons who committed fare evasion and other quality of life violations on the trains and in the stations,” Chief Wilcox said.
During his court appearance on July 26, the 16-year-old suspect seen attacking the NYPD officer in the video brazenly asked the judge if he could press his own charges in connection with the incident, the Daily Mail reported.
He did not specify who he wanted to pursue charges against or what charges he felt would be appropriate.