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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Mayor Bill deBlasio And The Politics of Murder

     A successful politician must do three things well: Raise a lot of money for himself and his family; lie convincingly to constituents; and avoid responsibility or blame for anything that could make him look like a political hack. High rates of crime make politicians look bad because to get elected, or re-elected, they promised to reduce crime, a task they have no ability to achieve. The politician also hates the commission of a high-profile murder in his backyard. When that happens, the hack looks around to see who else or what else he can blame. This is the dirty politics of murder.

The Public Housing Elevator Murder Case

     At six in the evening on Sunday, June 1, 2014, 6-year-old Prince Joshua Avitto and his 7-year-old friend Mikayla Capers, residents of a Brooklyn, New York housing project complex called Boulevard Houses, were riding the building's elevator on the way to get some ice cream.

     When the elevator stopped at the lobby and the door opened, a heavy-set black man wearing a gray shirt, dropped a bloody knife, then fled the building on foot. He left, on the elevator floor, the bloodied bodies of two children. The Avitto boy, stabbed in the torso, lay unconscious and unresponsive. The girl, Mikayla, had been stabbed in the chest, and had cuts on her hands.

     At the Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, doctors pronounced Prince Avitto dead. His friend, in critical condition, was transferred to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for specialized surgery.

     Unfortunately for homicide detectives, the elevator compartment had not been equipped with a surveillance camera. Investigators were working off the theory that the man who stabbed the housing project children might be the same person who, on Friday May 30, 2014, had stabbed 18-year-old Tanaya Copeland to death. That homicide had been committed just a few blocks from the housing project. The unidentified perpetrator in the Tanaya Copeland case had left the murder knife at that crime scene as well.

     On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio, appearing before reporters gathered at a press conference, blamed the housing authority bureaucracy for failing to install surveillance cameras in the housing project elevators. The mayor specifically pointed his finger at his predecessor, Mayor Bloomberg.

     Since politicians create bureaucracy, this criticism was rather ironic. Moreover, while surveillance video is an excellent investigative tool, the presence of a camera in the elevator would not necessarily have prevented the stabbings.

     On Wednesday, at eight o'clock in the evening, New York City detectives arrested 27-year-old Daniel St. Hubert as a suspect in the elevator stabbings. According to a police spokesperson, Hubert had a criminal history. He was currently on parole in connection with a domestic dispute assault case. Hubert was suspected of using a Duro Edge knife in the attacks.

     Because Mayor deBlasio couldn't blame guns in this case, he blamed the housing authority and the former mayor. Maybe he should have blamed himself as a big government politician who revels in massive bureaucracy. Or better yet, maybe he could have blamed the man with the knife.

     In the end, the Avitto boy's murder will not be the fault of failed mental health care, or a dysfunctional criminal justice system. This tragedy will be, in addition to the former mayor's fault, society's fault. We are to blame. This case reveals how our elected hacks play the dirty politics of murder.  

     In April 2018, a jury sitting in Brooklyn, New York found St. Hubert guilty of murder and attempted murder. The judge sentenced him to 50 years to life. 

1 comment:

  1. Yes it's a failure of mental health care. Why would someone randomly kill two kids?
    Mental health is the red headed stepchild of healthcare. It's hard to find prividers, and getting your insurance to pay is like pulling teeth.. Need to find a provider with Medicaid? You may as well start looking for a unicorn.