NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Brooklyn district attorney says he will iron out differences with the mayor and police commissioner over how to prosecute gun cases, but he will not cave to withering criticism from the NYPD about letting young offenders avoid jail.
Video released Tuesday shows a suspect with a gun firing at rival gang members from a rooftop, and another video shows a suspect firing from a doorway. They’re just two of 21 alleged gang members indicted in a massive gun violence case by DA Eric Gonzalez.
They’re also shots fired across the East River at Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD, who just Monday tried to blame some of the city’s shocking 27% rise in shootings last month on Gonzalez and his office policy of letting young gun offenders avoid jail with a diversion program.
Gonzalez said his program works to divert kids from the wrong path to the right one.
“Only 7 percent of those who graduate are convicted of a felony in the last three years,” Gonzalez said.
“So will you continue the diversion programs that your office runs?” CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer asked.
“We have no intent to not do it,” Gonzalez said.
The brouhaha over gun prosecutions was touched off by NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan, who blamed the increase in shooting incidents on district attorneys going easy on people arrested on gun charges.
“We’re getting the guns off the street. We’re upping gun arrests. What we need is that after that gun arrest is made that that person stays in jail,” Monahan said at Monday’s monthly crime statistics briefing.
“So what should be done?” Kramer asked.
“I believe that not as many people should be put — I don’t think that 30 percent of every gun arrest, where a cop puts his life on the line to take a gun off the street, off of somebody — should have a case sealed,” Monahan said.
Monahan singled out Gonzalez, saying in 30% of the 158 gun cases this year, the charges were dismissed or sealed because the defendants were going into so-called diversion programs.
“So was the criticism unfair?” Kramer asked.
“I think it’s also important to make it clear that while we’ve had an uptick in Brooklyn North in the number of shootings, overall the number of homicides in Brooklyn are down again for the third consecutive year,” Gonzalez said. “One of the things that we say here in Brooklyn is that we try to divert a very small subset of young people who we believe can be removed from gang life or be removed from violence, and make the community safer.”
The district attorney told Kramer he would make his case to both the mayor and police commissioner. He also pointed out that in the case of gang violence, there would be leniency.