NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Asked Monday about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed reforms of the bail system and the diversion courts in the wake of the fatal shooting of an NYPD officer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered anything but a ringing endorsement.
“I think when it comes to alternatives to incarceration, I have supported alternatives to incarceration all my life,” Cuomo told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb, at Chelsea Piers.
But Cuomo added: “As leadership, we have to send a different signal, and the signal is ‘respect law enforcement.'”
Cuomo said the police represent every member of the community and called those who would attack cops “thugs” and “punks.”
Last week, de Blasio called for changes in the programs that he said allowed Tyrone Howard, who allegedly shot and killed Officer Randolph Holder, to be out on the streets.
De Blasio was furious that Howard was sent to a drug rehabilitation program and not incarcerated after an arrest for allegedly selling crack cocaine last fall. At that time, Howard had a dozen arrests and convictions for drugs, robbery and public lewdness.
Howard was out on bail when he allegedly shot and killed Holder in East Harlem Tuesday night.
“The death of Officer Randolph Holder was a clear and tragic signal that we must ensure dangerous individuals with long criminal histories do not walk our streets,” de Blasio said.
Right now, New York is one of only three states where judges are not allowed to consider how dangerous a criminal is or their risk to public safety when determining bail, according to the mayor. He said both of those factors could have kept Howard off the streets.
“Tyrone Howard would have gone to jail. He would not have continued to poison the community around him by selling drugs. He wouldn’t have been roaming East Harlem on Tuesday and one of NYPD’s good, decent, hard-working cops would still be alive today,” de Blasio said.
At 30, Howard has been arrested more than two dozen times since he was 13 and sentenced to state prison twice since 2007 for drug possession and sale. One term came after he tried unsuccessfully for drug court in a 2011 case charging him with smoking PCP while carrying 22 bags of crack cocaine. Howard eventually pleaded guilty to drug possession.
In October 2014, he was charged with selling crack to an undercover officer. He was swept up as part of a larger drug case. Prosecutors sought six years behind bars.
But after reviewing Howard’s record, troubled home life and longtime addiction, the judge agreed to refer his case for evaluation for drug court, where another judge OK’d Howard for the program.
The judge who handled the case said Howard, a longtime PCP user who despite his long rap sheet had no convictions for violent crimes, was a compelling candidate for drug court.
“I don’t get a crystal ball when I get the robe,” said state Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin. He defended his decision as “accurate and appropriate,” saying that doing time hadn’t helped Howard before.
What the judge didn’t know at the time was that in 2009, Howard was arrested in connection with a shooting that injured an 11-year-old and a 78-year-old.
Sources told CBS2 those records were sealed and Howard was granted youthful offender status, despite being 24, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
After being approved for drug court, Howard was released on $35,000 bail in February and pleaded guilty to the drug charge in May.
He started missing monthly status meetings and various court dates in August, then became a suspect in a Sept. 1 shooting. An arrest warrant was issued Sept. 17, and police tried 10 times to locate him, authorities said.
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