Press Conference in Response to Brooklyn DA’s Announcement of No Charges Following Re-Investigation of Police Officer that Killed Nicholas Heyward Jr. in 1994
November 7th (Brooklyn, NY) – The father of Nicholas Heyward Jr., murdered 22 years ago by a police officer, is outraged at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office decision to close the re-investigation of the shooting. Nicholas Heyward Sr. does not, contrary to media reports, accept the DA’s findings and is appalled at the mischaracterization of his reaction by the Office to the press. Mr. Heyward will host a rally and press conference on Thursday, November 10th at 12:30pm in front of the Brooklyn DA’s Office to rebut media reports and make further statements about the failed investigation. He will be joined by his wife, his attorney, his supporters as well as Assemblymember Charles Barron and former Brooklyn DA Civil Rights Bureau Chief Marc Fliedner.
From Mr. Heyward’s first meeting with the Civil Rights Bureau on September 1, 2015, the Brooklyn DA’s Office was asked to investigate whether or not there was a cover-up by former DA Charles Hynes’s Office in “investigating” the shooting death of Nicholas Heyward Jr. or a cover-up by NYPD. As the late Ken Thompson has been celebrated for overturning wrongful convictions from the Hynes era, Mr. Heyward fully expected Thompson’s office to examine discrepancies and inconsistencies from Hynes’s so-called “investigation” of his son’s case. Instead, the Brooklyn DA’s Office has come to the same conclusion that Hynes’s Office did by relying on falsified evidence from 1994 to decide again, in 2016, that killing a child playing with a toy is not in crime in Brooklyn, as long as you are a cop.
Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez told Mr. Heyward that they were closing the case because they had not found sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute the now retired Officer Brian George on murder. Acting DA Gonzalez declined to answer on whether they could have successfully prosecuted George on a lesser charge or whether evidence that was destroyed in the custody of the NYPD (which the DA’s Office confirmed had been destroyed) affected the re-investigation. Mr. Heyward contends that the statute of limitations should not apply in the case of his murdered son, since the initial investigation was mishandled, the NYPD destroyed key evidence, and because Mr. Heyward had demanded a re-investigation for years — only to be ignored by Hynes.
There are also discrepancies surrounding the latest Brooklyn DA’s investigation that Mr. Heyward would like to highlight: the toy gun that was deemed “realistic,” the clothes that Nicholas was wearing the night of his death (the clothes in the photo the DA possesses are not those he wore that night), and the fact that other key witnesses, including the first witness, were not interviewed.
The failure to interview witnesses — by itself — raised serious doubts about DA Hynes’s intentions in investigating this case. Mr. Heyward sought — and believed that DA Thompson would have followed through on — a full public accounting of missteps made by the NYPD and the previous district attorney’s administration so that similar failures would not happen again. This public accounting has never happened, nor has Mr. Heyward been provided with a written copy of the Civil Rights Bureau’s contemporary investigation.
Notably, it was Mr. Heyward who had requested repeatedly to meet the Civil Rights Bureau to discuss additional witness interviews, to contest physical evidence the Office had received from the NYPD, and to request the Office improve its communication with him, so that his knowledge of and research into his son’s case could improve the re-investigation. Instead, the DA’s Office repeatedly suggested that Mr. Heyward not speak out publicly and declined to meet with him for months until last week, when they dropped yet another bombshell on a father who will not stop until he gets justice for his son.
Mr. Heyward wants answers. He wants copies of the final report — which was leaked to the media but not provided to him. Mr. Heyward also wants to know if current members of the Brooklyn DA’s Office now, specifically Assistant District Attorney Joe Alexis (who prosecuted former police officer Peter Liang for the death of Akai Gurley), unfairly influenced the outcome of this reinvestigation. Alexis worked under Charles Hynes and was part of the original investigation that Mr. Heyward contests.
The fight for justice for Nicholas Heyward Jr. is not over.
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