15 to 20 hasidim, most members of the Shomrim street patrol, allegedly savagely beat a black college student 7 months ago. Is Brooklyn's new DA telling the truth about that beating and the very delayed arrests related to it?
Above: Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson
NY1's Errol Lewis interviewed new Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson last night. (Watch the video here.)
Lewis asked Thompson about the case of Taj Patterson, the gay black college student who was savagely beaten by a gang of 15 to 20 hasidim, most members of the hasidic Shomrim street patrol, in Williamsburg early on the morning of December 1. Some of the hasidim allegedly yelled racial and other slurs during the beating, which left Patterson blind in one eye and hospitalized.
The assault was witnessed by a city bus driver and several others, some of whom took pictures and video of the assault and of the vehicles the hasidm drove.
But no arrests were made, and when FailedMessiah.com called police to check on the status of the case in early March, cops had no idea who Patterson was or that there had been a beating. After looking up the case file, a public information officer said there was no new information since the original report was made. I asked him to get an update. He promised to call the infamously corrupt 90th Precinct, speak to the commander, and then get back to me with an update. He never did.
The NYPD and Thompson have never explained why only five of these alleged hasidic thugs were arrested.
The day after those few arrests were made, FailedMessiah.com exclusively reported that in the hours after the beating, approximately 20 members of Williamsburg's Shomrim street patrol allegedly went door to door over a 10 block radius from the site of the beating to erase or destroy security camera footage that would implicate fellow Shomrim members and other hasidim in the beating.
So what did Brooklyn's new DA say about the Patterson case?
Thompson strongly insisted that "the law applies to everyone" – meaning members of a group will not get special treatment or be exempt from prosecution just because of their membership in that favored group – i.e., the large, powerful Satmar hasidic voting bloc.
But what Thompson said after that appears to show that Thompson may not have been telling the truth.
Thompson said the evidence in the case – which he said his office had "thoroughly investigated for months" – did not support hate crimes charges. But Thompson did not say that reports by eyewitnesses and Patterson saying racial and other slurs were used during the beating were false. This was likely a lawyerly way of dodging Lewis' point – that there "wasn't evidence to support" is not saying that there wasn't evidence.
Thompson also said that "we have the right people who attacked him [Patterson]." But Thompson never addressed initial reports that 15 to 20 hasidim attacked Patterson or explained why only five of those were arrested.
In the interview, which covered several other topics besides the Patterson beating, Thompson admitted that when he and staff took over the DA's office in January, they found bags of shredded documents his predecessor Charles J. Hynes – who is now under state and federal criminal investigation for allegedly misusing as much a $1 million in public funds (and, I've now been told, for allegedly putting cronies and favored campaign workers in full pay no-work jobs with some of that money).
This jibes with an exclusive report by FailedMessiah.com last year that on the night Hynes lost the Democratic primary election and maintained he would not run as a Republican or Conservative (he later changed his mind, ran and lost in a landslide to Thompson), top Hynes' prosecutor Michael Vecchione allegedly went to the DA's office and removed cartons of files and documents to keep the information they contained away from Thompson.
Update 7:17 pm CDT – Here's an update-continuation of this post that includes an answer from the DA's spokesperson to questions I posed.