Many New York City riot and looting cases from 2020 were dropped

New York was rocked with riots and looting last year in late May and into June.
Statue of Liberty with Lower Manhattan in background in 2016

June 20, 2021 2:47pm

Updated: June 20, 2021 9:58pm

While hundreds of people were arrested in connection with riots and looting that rocked New York City during late May and into June of 2020, many cases have been dropped.

Police data examined by the NBC New York I-Team indicated that there were 118 arrests made in the Bronx amid the thick of the looting in early June. According to the outlet, the NYPD says that the Bronx DA and the courts have dismissed 73 cases, while 18 are still open and there have been 19 convictions largely on lesser counts such as trespassing.

The outlet reported that in Manhattan, where there were break-ins at stores in late May and into June, NYPD data indicates there were 485 arrests, but that 222 were dropped, 73 had convictions on lesser counts such as trespassing, which entails no jail time; 40 cases pertained to juveniles and had been sent to family court; and 128 remain open.

NBC New York reported that Manhattan DA Cy Vance in an internal memo noted that there were more than 600 commercial burglary arrests as well as more than 3,500 unindicted felony cases waiting to advance in the courts and on hold due to the pandemic.

Prior to dropping a case Vance instructed his prosecutors to examine defendants' criminal histories, whether authorities could actually place them at the scene and whether the people inflicted "any damage to the store."

He told his office: "For many of these commercial burglaries, you will be asked to reduce the initial felony charge to a misdemeanor and to dispose of the case … with an eye towards rehabilitation.” He also emphasized the "continued goal to achieve consistency and equitable treatment in these cases," according to the outlet.

According to the outlet, a court spokesperson said that choices to dismiss were mainly made by district attorneys. "An application must be made by the district attorney or as they have done with hundreds of DATs, decline to prosecute them," Lucian Chalfen said.