15 to 20 hasidim, most members of the Shomrim street patrol, allegedly savagely beat a gay black college student 7 months ago. Is Brooklyn's new DA telling the whole truth about that beating and the very delayed arrests related to it?
Above: Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson
After doing more research, I thnk I've discovered what Thompson is actually doing.
I think, goes like this:
• Thompson implies that reason these five hasidim were charged with gang assault is because the assault was so serious. But that is almost certainly false. The assault was definately serious – Patterson was savagely beaten and blined in one eye – but New York State law essentially mandates that the charge in this case be gang assault.
The New York State Penal Code reads as follows:
S 120.07 Gang assault in the first degree.
A person is guilty of gang assault in the first degree when, with intent to cause serious physical injury to another person and when aided by two or more other persons actually present, he causes serious physical injury to such person or to a third person.
In other words, Thompson charged these five hasidim with gang assault in the first degree because the law required him to do so.
• Gang assault in the first degree is a Class B violent felony offence.
• Its sentence must be at least five years and must not exceed twenty-five years.
• New York State's Hate Crimes law mandates the following:
“when a person is convicted of a hate crime pursuant to this article and the specified offense is a class B felony…the term of the determinate sentence must be at least eight years if the defendant is sentenced [for a violent crime and ] … must be at least twelve years if the defendant is [a second time violent offender.]”
• That means that some of the five arrested hasidim would have to be sentenced to serve at least 8 years in prison if convicted under the hate crimes law and one (or more) of them, who allegedly has a prior violent conviction, would have to be sentenced serve at least 12 years.
• On top of that, if they were charged with a hate crime, it would be very difficult politically for Thompson to plead them out to a lesser charge.
• However, it would be much easier politically for Thompson to plead out these hasidim to a lesser charge if they are charged with gang assault, and doing so would, of course, also lower their sentences – perhaps even to probation-only sentences or sentences that would see the hasidim serving only brief sentences in a New York City jail rather than a state prison. (Look how the hasid who threw bleach in the face of Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg was treated by Thompson and you'll see what I mean.)
I asked Thompson's office to clarify some of these issues.
A spokesperson for the DA declined to explain why the evidence to charge a hate crime was i"nsufficient." She also declined to comment on the 10 to 15 other hasidim who were part of the gang but who were not arrested, and would not even acknowledge or admit more than the five arrested hasidim were there during the beating.
"We cannot go any further than what the District Attorney said last night on television as it is a pending case…All I can say is that five people have been charged. I cannot go beyond that as I said it is a pending case and the details will unfold at trial," the spokesperson wrote in an email.
No date for trial has yet been set.