Prosecutors charging ex-cops with rape of teenager ask to be removed from case
With less than a week before jury selection is expected to begin in the rape trial of two ex-NYPD officers, prosecutors with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office are asking that the case be turned over to a special prosecutor.
“We regret that our continuing to pursue the case might well create an appearance of impropriety and discourage public confidence in our Office and the Kings County criminal justice system,” wrote Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy Hoppock.
On Thursday, Hoppock wrote a letter to Justice Danny Chun, who is presiding over the case, after defense attorneys Mark Bederow, Daniel Bibb and Peter Guadagnino filed a motion asking prosecutors to recuse themselves after the alleged victim ranted on social media against their office.
The 20-year-old woman, who uses the name “Anna Chambers” on social media, made negative comments about the Brooklyn prosecutors on Twitter after criminal defense attorney Michael Cibella was assigned to represent her at the upcoming trial.
“While we disagree with the rationale for the defendant’s motion, we are requesting, for different reasons, that the Court appoint a special prosecutor in this case,” Hoppock said.
Within the two and-a-half pages, Hoppock emphasized three reasons the legal team cannot move forward with the slew of charges against former anti-crime Detectives Richard Hall and Eddie Martins: the discovery of a romantic relationship Hall once had with a prosecutor at the District Attorney’s office not involved with the case; false testimony given under oath; and the unethical use of Chambers as a witness.
Chambers originally reported that on Sept. 15, 2017, she was falsely arrested for drug possession by Hall and Martins. After the arrest, she said, the two men took turns raping her in the backseat of their police van as they drove through Bay Ridge and Coney Island.
Hall and Martins claim the sex was consensual, and each resigned from NYPD after being indicted in November 2017.
“We are grateful that the Brooklyn DA finally acknowledges what we have been saying since the fall of 2017: The witness repeatedly lied and perjured herself,” defense attorney Mark Bederow told the Brooklyn Eagle. “We hope the next prosecutor assigned to the case will investigate more thoroughly, without consideration to external factors, before considering what action to take.”
Since the indictment, during federal civil proceedings related to the criminal case, Chambers allegedly made repeated statements that defense attorneys claim contradict information she gave to the grand jury in late 2017.
“Most troubling, she made some false statements under oath,” Hoppock wrote in her letter to Justice Chun.
Witnesses giving testimony to grand juries are not immune to perjury charges.
As recently as November 2018, Chambers admitted that she was hiding cocaine in her bra before one of the officers arrested her for drug possession.
Chambers’ civil attorney Michael David said that, while he hasn’t seen the transcripts from the grand jury, Chambers was “clarifying her statements” now, because she was a “scared 18-year-old” in front of a grand jury for the first time back in 2015.
Bederow called David’s explanation “absurd.”
“He [David] has sat next to her four times while she perjured herself. Isn’t that enough? Perhaps he should say nothing,” he said. “The more he talks, the more he proves our point and strengthens a potential perjury case.”
Because of the turn of events, the prosecutors feel their hands are tied from continuing with the case.
Hoppock wrote in her letter that, if the prosecution dropped certain counts against Hall and Martins, Chambers and the public could view that as evidence that Chambers was being unfairly disfavored due to her public criticism of the DA’s Office or because of Hall’s relationship with an attorney there.
“We are very upset that the DA isn’t taking the case anymore. We look forward to the new prosecutors to come in and look at this case,” said David. “The facts are that she was handcuffed and was raped in the back of a van with an on-duty police officer.”
It wasn’t until after the Chambers case came to light that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill prohibiting police officers statewide from having sexual contact with suspects.
David maintains that Chambers was truthful from the beginning.
The lawyers are expected to give oral statements on Tuesday, Jan. 22, and Justice Chun may make a decision on their request.
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