NYPD cop’s murder mirrors larger national pattern: Repeat offenders committing violent crimes

Revolving door justice: The pattern has emerged across the country as cities like New York and Washington, D.C. have softened bail laws and continue to release dangerous individuals into the public.
NEW YORK, U.S. - MARCH 30, 2024: Thousands of police attend the funeral for NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller on Saturday (March 30) in Long Island, New York.The funeral mass for the Diller was held at Saint Rose of Lima R.C. Church and the interment is scheduled to take place at St. Charles / Resurrection Cemeteries military cemetery.A police officer died on Monday after being shot during a traffic stop in Queens, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) said on Monday.

After the tragic shooting of a New York Police Department officer Jonathan Diller last week elicited reactions nationwide, drawing attention from New York politicians and presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The alleged perpetrator, Guy Rivera—who has been charged with first-degree murder of the police officer, attempted murder, and criminal possession of a weapon—is a career criminal with 21 prior arrests.

This appears to be a pattern borne out across the nation—criminals quickly released from incarceration returning to commit serious and violent crimes at the expense of innocent citizens or police officers. A study from New York indicated this pattern is likely the result of bail reform. Other evidence from elsewhere in the country shows weak enforcement from District Attorneys and other law enforcement.

The widow of Jonathan Diller addressed this pattern in the gut wrenching eulogy for her husband delivered last week at the funeral held in the Long Island town of Massapequa.

Ultimate sacrifice

“It’s been two years and two months since Detective Rivera and Detective Mora made the ultimate sacrifice — just like my husband Jonathan Diller. Dominque Rivera stood before all the elected officials present today pleading for change,” Stephanie Diller said, referring to the 2022 murder of two NYPD officers under similar circumstances.

“That change never came. And now my son will grow up without his father, and I will grow old without my husband. And his parents have to say goodbye to their child,” she continued. “How many more police officers and how many families need to make the ultimate sacrifice before we start protecting them?” she asked, with top leaders of the NYPD and Mayor Eric Adams in attendance.

"This is a vicious career criminal who has the mentality to kill a New York City police officer," said Patrick Hendry, president of the Police Benevolent Association. "He's a dangerous individual, should have never been on the streets."

The murder comes amid an enduring crime problem that has plagued America’s largest city. For example, violent crimes on the city’s famous subway system have skyrocketed 22.6% so far this year, compared to the same period from 2023. Both Mayor Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul have struggled to rein it in.

“What makes sense of this? It doesn't anymore, and you know what, rules and laws have got to change. Nobody is trying to look for a fight. Let's just get a change. Let's get in a room think this thing out and make a change that's good for everybody," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said of the murder, according to CBS News New York.

Mayor Adams’ office did not respond to a request for comment from Just the News.

The same day NYPD Officer Diller was shot, a a man who was described by his mother as having psychological issues pushed a random stranger onto the subway tracks at an East Harlem station. According to the police, the attack was unprovoked. The driver of the oncoming train was unable to stop in time and the victim was struck and killed.

Later that evening, the suspect was arrested by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and identified as Carlton McPherson. NYPD said the man appeared to have a history of mental illness and had several previous arrests in Brooklyn. McPherson has been charged with committed a string of assaults revealing a violent nature. In the first assault on record, from when he was 16-years-old, he was charged with attacking another teenager with brass knuckles. The New York Times reported that Brian Chelcun, a Legal Aid lawyer who represented Mr. McPherson in the October case, declined to comment when reached on Tuesday.

Despite decreases in crime rates overall throughout the city, violent crimes on the subways persist in the face of attempts by Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul to curb the problem. The mayor’s latest initiative—portable gun scanners for subway stations—follows a series of actions by Mayor Adams and Gov. Hochul to restrain crime in the subways, which included deploying the national guard and surging mental health assistance, Just the News reported last week.

New York’s bail reform laws have come under renewed scrutiny, in light of the multiple recent tragedies and crime on the public transportation system. Gov. Hochul criticized state judges for not being “trained in the changes that we made,” however, New York is the only state where judges do not consider how dangerous an offender is when deciding bail, according to CBS News New York.

The revolving door

An Easter Sunday shooting in Nashville, Tennessee was the latest incident to mirror this pattern. A man fired multiple rounds from his firearm at a Nashville-area restaurant after what a police spokesperson described as an “altercation” with another restaurant-goer. The shooting left one person dead and at least five others wounded. The suspect fled the scene in a vehicle.

The suspect, Anton Rucker, was later apprehended in Kentucky, about 100 miles North of Nashville. Authorities revealed Rucker is a convicted felon with aggravated assault convictions in Nashville, an arrest in Murfreesboro, TN as well as arrests for felony drug charges and assault and gun charges last year. Court records show Rucker was out of jail on a combined $50,000 bond for these charges at the time of the shooting, according to local news.

Earlier this year, lawmakers in Tennessee pushed for a bill that would adjust the way the state’s bail laws work, which currently allows judges to set the bail according to the defendant’s financial situation. Critics believe this status quo has allowed offenders back onto the streets where they commit more crimes.

“Restorative Justice Schemers believe letting criminals out of jail dependent on how much money they happen to have in their pocket is good policy,” State Senator Brent Taylor posted to Facebook.

A recent study of the relationship between bail and repeat offenders by the Data Collaborative for Justice at John Jay College found that bail reform increases recidivism for high-rise individuals.

“We shouldn't blame judges for making release decisions that jeopardize public safety because that's not part of what they're supposed to do," said René Ropac, senior research associate at the collaborative told CBS News New York. “For quote unquote high-risk individuals, we found recidivism increases because of bail reform," he said.

Last year in Washington, D.C. a Virginia woman named Christy Bautista checked into a hotel in the city’s Northeast. An hour later, an intruder brutally attacked her in the hotel room, stabbing her more than 20 times, according to the police. The suspect, George Syndor Jr. was found shortly after inside the room with blood on his hands after police were called to the scene.

Much like the other instances, Syndor has an extensive criminal record. He was arrested for armed robbery just five months before for an armed robbery in D.C. Originally denied bail by a judge who cited his criminal history as an indication he would pose a threat to the community, a different judge reversed that judgement, releasing Syndor from jail only two weeks after his arrest. He then failed to appear at his first court hearing and there were warrants out for his arrest at the time of the murder, according to local news.

D.C.’s criminal justice record has faced scrutiny in recent years as violent crime has surged, making it one of the deadliest cities in the country. Violent crime in the capital increased nearly 40% in 2023 alone. That year the homicide rate increased to the highest levels in 20 years.

D.C. officials made the connection between weaker pre-trial detention requirements and increasing violent crimes. In a package of amendments to the federal district’s criminal code initially proposed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, the D.C. council empowered judges to jail suspects charged with violent crimes until trial—an attempt to crack down on the release of violent criminals as in the case of Syndor.

Former President Trump, who is the GOP frontrunner to challenge old 2020 rival, has decried crime in New York and the nation’s capital, promising new reforms if he is elected.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the former president said he would seek a bill to make the murder of a police officer punishable by the death penalty in response to the murder of Officer Diller in New York.

“I will ask Congress to send a bill to my desk ensuring that anyone who murders a police officer will receive immediately the death penalty,” Trump said to the crowd, which cheered in approval. Trump has previously called for the death penalty for cop killers as early as 2018.

The former president has also called for a “federal takeover” of Washington, D.C., which he described as a “filthy and crime-ridden embarrassment to our nation” amid the historic rise in violent crime.

Link between no or low bail and recidivism

A recent study of the relationship between bail and repeat offenders by the Data Collaborative for Justice at John Jay College found that bail reform increases recidivism for high-rise individuals.

“We shouldn't blame judges for making release decisions that jeopardize public safety because that's not part of what they're supposed to do," said René Ropac, senior research associate at the collaborative told CBS News New York. “For quote unquote high-risk individuals, we found recidivism increases because of bail reform," he said.

President Biden reportedly called Mayor Adams to express his condolences over Officer Diller’s murder and promised his support for the city, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told the press.

Earlier this month, Biden touted the overall decrease in crime in 2023. “In 2020, before I took office, the prior administration oversaw the largest increase in murders ever recorded. My Administration got to work on day one to fix that,” Biden said in a statement on March 19. But, he did not address the recent instances of violent crime in New York nor the nation’s capital.

American voters show crime is a relatively minor concern, especially compared to immigration and the economy, according to the most recent polling from Gallup.