What I’m about to tell you is the most painful, traumatic, outrageous, outlandish, over-the-top story of government sanctioned police brutality, wrongful imprisonment, wrongful convictions, forced testimony, widespread corruption, money, lots of money, and deep, deep, deep soul-snatching psychological abuse in modern American history. Hundreds, maybe thousands of children, have been targeted and abused. I would not have believed it had I not seen it all for myself. The rabbit hole I am about to take you down is deep and twisted. It should lead to the termination of a whole host of officials. Many should be arrested and a comprehensive independent investigation should begin immediately.
I receive hundreds of emails about injustice in America every single day. In mid-July, dozens of those emails were about a Bronx teenager named Pedro Hernandez who was wrongly jailed at Rikers. Hernandez had won awards at Rikers for his leadership and academic performance and had also been granted a scholarship from the Posse Foundation to enter college this fall. Offered a plea deal from the Bronx DA’s Office to be released for time served, Hernandez did what few people in his position would do – he turned down the deal. Accused of shooting Shaun Nardoni, a neighborhood teenager, in the leg on September 1st, 2015, Hernandez was offered a ticket out of Rikers in exchange for admitting he shot Nardoni. The District Attorney even sweetened the pot and pledged to expunge his record in five years if he met all of the terms of his probation. Hernandez still refused to take the deal – continuing to pledge that he was completely innocent and would rather take his chances with a jury before admitting to something he didn’t do.
As I Googled Pedro’s name and case, I saw several local reports that stated he had been wrongfully arrested and harassed by the NYPD for years. A guard at another facility was actually arrested and charged with criminal assault, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal obstruction of breathing and blood circulation, and harassment after being caught on film brutally beating and choking Pedro. Eight different eyewitnesses had all come forward to state that Pedro was not the shooter. Many even went so far as to identify the actual shooter. Why then, did Pedro remain behind bars? Why did it seem like the NYPD had it out for him? And how could the Bronx DA simultaneously believe that Pedro was safe enough to set free if he took the plea, but so dangerous, that if he didn’t, his bail would be set at an outrageous $250,000 with a stipulation that he not pay the typical 10%, but pay all $250,000 – effectively ensuring that he’d never get out on bail. That Pedro Hernandez, with the entire deck stacked against him, still refused to take a plea, hooked me.
As I reached out to Pedro’s family, I was immediately struck by something peculiar. I’ve written nearly 1,000 stories about police brutality and misconduct and have interviewed hundreds of families suffering the consequences of those things. Almost every single one of those families, particularly when they are still in a stage of grief or conflict, without fail, want to speak exclusively about their very specific case. Pedro’s family was different. They immediately wanted me to know that Pedro was not alone, but that he was just one of hundreds of victims whose lives had been turned upside down by officers from the 42nd precinct in the Bronx who were working in close concert with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. The accusations were so sweeping and broad that I wasn’t sure how to process them.
They went something like this:
“Stop and frisk has been banned, but police in the 42nd precinct are actually doing something far worse. They are setting quotas and goals for the number of people each officer must arrest. If you don’t meet or exceed the quotas, you feel the wrath of your supervisors. Instead of rejecting the quotas, some officers are embracing them and rounding up people, particularly teenage children, for crimes they know good and well they didn’t commit – locking them away sometimes for days, weeks, months, or even years at a time – then simply dismissing the charges. This isn’t just a few rogue cops, but an entire precinct is doing this and they are partnering with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office to make it happen. With threats, and even brute force, kids are being coerced to identify and testify against people they don’t even know. Officers are terrorizing families, snatching kids out of their beds, not a few times, but dozens of times per child. Cops think they can do anything they want and it appears they can. Pedro is being framed. They tried to frame him over and over again before this case. And other kids are being framed too. And the kids and families who’ve been victimized by this scandal are hollow shells of their former selves. The Police Commissioner, the Comptroller, and the Mayor all know about this and are doing nothing.”In mid-July, I wasn’t quite sure how much of that I believed. Now, I believe all of it –every single bit. How I got here wasn’t easy, but over the next few
In mid-July, I wasn’t quite sure how much of that I believed. Now, I believe all of it –every single bit. How I got here wasn’t easy, but over the next few days, I’m going to try to break it all down for you. Saying it all in one piece would be sensory overload. The evidence is meticulous, overwhelming and undeniable. I’ll have to start from the beginning.
Follow this link for the full story: https://medium.com/@ShaunKing/soul-snatchers-how-the-nypds-42nd-precinct-the-bronx-da-s-office-and-the-city-of-new-york-7454a5a43924
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