Beleaguered Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has made a stunning about face – walking back his soft-on-crime agenda that was memorialized in a controversial memo issued when he took office in January.
In a one-page letter to staff Friday, Bragg acknowledged that the Jan. 3 memo giving directives to prosecutors on how to handle cases “has been a source of confusion, rather than clarity.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg during a Get Out the Vote rally in Harlem before he took office.
(Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
The memo released on Bragg’s third day in office, ordered prosecutors not to seek prison sentences for a slew of crimes and to downgrade charges – including for robberies and commercial burglaries.
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It specifically stated that a robbery should be downgraded to petit larceny if the brandishing of the weapon “does not create a genuine risk of physical harm.”
The office came under fire when it began implementing the progressive policy.
An ex-convict was arrested for felony robbery for allegedly stealing more than $2,000 worth of merchandise from a Duane Reade store and waving a knife at a worker who tried to stop him. Bragg’s office downgraded the charge to petit larceny, the New York Post reported.
When the Jan. 3 memo was released, Bragg’s office declined to comment on whether this policy would include an unloaded firearm or an imitation gun.
Pat Lynch, president of the NYC Police Benevolent Association.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The recent letter offered clarity. “A commercial robbery with a gun will be charged as a felony, whether or not the gun is operable, loaded, or a realistic imitation,” he wrote. “A commercial robbery at knifepoint, or by other weapon that creates a risk of physical harm will be charged as a felony.”
The latest letter added that prosecutors were not bound by the Jan. 3 memo and had discretion to use their own judgement in charging cases.
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Bragg’s memo has been hammered by cops, prosecutors and even defense lawyers for the agenda at a time when many categories of violent crime have spiked in the city.
Six cops have been shot so far this year – including detectives Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, who both died from their injuries. Shootings were up 45.8% percent in the first 28 days of 2022, according to public data.
Former Manhattan prosecutor Mark Bederow, who now works as a defense lawyer, called Bragg’s latest letter a 180.
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“The public outcry appears to have caused the DA to reverse himself within a month,” Bederow said. “The Feb. 4 letter appears to defang the memo, which gave clear instructions to go soft on many classes of cases, including certain gunpoint robberies and other violent felonies.”
The letter also stated that Bragg’s office would not tolerate violence against cops. “We will prosecute any person who harms or attempts to harm a police officer,” he wrote.
Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch commented on Bragg’s policy reversal on social media.
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“We hope this updated memo filters down to the streets the way the first one did, because gun-toting criminals definitely believe they have a safe haven in Manhattan,” Lynch wrote on Twitter. “DA Bragg needs to keep sending the message that they won’t get a pass.”
A spokesperson for Bragg’s office declined to comment.
Embattled Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg backpedals on controversial soft-on-crime policies appeared first on maserietv.com.