The New York Times took a close look at a series of Brooklyn gun arrests yesterday, casting doubt on the police officers involved and bringing to light allegations that, in some cases, cops have planted the guns on suspects.
The story chronicles the similar arrests of several men, Jeffrey Herring, Eugene Moore and John Hopper. Each arrest, the article said, involved an anonymous informant that was not mentioned until months into the prosecution and who would not appear in court, guns found in plastic bags without the suspect's fingerprints, and the same group of arresting officers.
Herring said he was "shocked" when he was arrested for gun possession, and questioned the police's account of the incident. A public defender at Brooklyn Defender Services, Debora Silberman, was representing Herring after his arrest last June when she noticed the trends. Silberman discovered that Detective Gregory Jean-Baptiste, one of the officers, had previously had his testimony challenged during another gun arrest. When she called the defense attorney for the case, she was "surprised" to hear how much overlap the case had with Herring's.
Now, Silberman and defense lawyer, Scott Hechinger, have compiled a list of papers which allege "a group of officers invents criminal informers, and may be motivated to make false arrests to help satisfy department goals or quotas. They also question whether the police are collecting the $1,000 rewards offered to informers from Operation Gun Stop, especially in cases where the informers never materialize."
There were no comments from the officers involved, but a spokeswoman for the Police Department said that the allegations were being looked into and taken seriously.
Both Moore and Hopper spent almost a year in jail before their trials; they couldn't afford bail. Herring is scheduled to go to State Supreme Court in Brooklyn on Monday. The judge has asked that the informant be presented, to confirm the case's "credibility."
For those who've been following along with coverage of NYPD corruption, allegations like these aren't hard to swallow. To cite one example, in 2011 a former NYPD Detective testified that he regularly saw police plant drugs on innocent people as a way to meet arrest quotas.