The district attorney dropped rape and kidnapping charges against a pair of former cops who admitted to having sex with an 18-year-old Coney Island woman in their custody in 2017, and will instead pursue trying the defendants on lesser charges of official misconduct and taking bribes.
Prosecutors on March 6 dismissed the charges against one-time Police Department detectives Richard Hall and Eddie Martins due to “unforeseen and serious credibility issues” with the woman’s testimony, according to the district attorney’s spokesman Oren Yaniv, who said the office is still committed to seeking justice in the case.
“We are fully committed to holding these defendants accountable by vigorously pursuing the charges in this case that can be proven with independent and reliable evidence,” Yaniv said.
The woman allegedly provided prosecutors with a “series of false, misleading, and inconsistent statements about the facts of the case,” according to a January letter Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy Hoppock wrote to the Supreme Court judge presiding over the case, whom Hoppock also requested appoint a special prosecutor to the case due to concerns that dropping the charges would undermine both the woman’s and the public’s trust in the justice system.
“If we decide to drop certain counts against the defendants, the decision will surely be perceived by [the woman], and we now fear by the public, as evidence that we are, in fact, unfairly disfavoring [the woman] and favoring the defendants,” Hoppock wrote. “In the end, we want to see justice done on [the woman’s] behalf, and we want to maintain community trust in the criminal-justice system.”
But another Supreme Court judge, Justice Matthew D’Emic — who was assigned to respond to Hoppock’s letter — ultimately rejected the prosecutors’ request, claiming that the district attorney’s office had “fulfilled its ethical obligations” by being forthcoming about the woman’s alleged lies, and that concerns about losing the public’s trust were “not a reasonable ground for disqualification.”
The woman’s lawyer, however, argued the district attorney’s office was not justified in dropping the charges, claiming that the defendants’ attorneys assailed his client’s credibility in an effort to pressure prosecutors, whom he said ultimately chose to drop certain charges based on their frustrations with the 18-year-old.
“The defense was trying to say well, look at these false accusations, maybe she’s not credible — they pressured the DA,” said Michael David. “We saw this coming, because a few weeks ago, before the trial was starting, the DA wanted her to accept reduced charges and she wanted the rape charges to go ahead — when that happened, they turned on her.”
Hall and Martins now face up to seven years in prison if convicted of the top charge in their 11-count indictment, which includes nine counts of official misconduct and two counts of taking bribes. Previously, the two faced as many as 25 years behind bars if convicted of the top charge in their former 50-count indictment, which included multiple counts of rape.
The former detectives, who worked as part of the Brooklyn South Narcotics Unit, quit the force days after their 2017 arraignment on the 50-count indictment, when they pleaded “not guilty” to the rape and kidnapping charges and were released on bail.
Their departure came days before the two were set to face an internal trial about the incident, which occurred in September 2017, after the pair arrested the woman in Gravesend’s Calvert Vaux Park for allegedly possessing small amounts of anti-depressants, marijuana, and prescription pills.
The woman claimed the pair never phoned the arrest in to the 60th Precinct, instead telling her they would release her with a lesser penalty if she complied with their demands. The detectives then allegedly took the woman on a drive through Southern Brooklyn that ended in the parking lot of a Cropsey Avenue Chipotle between Bay 52nd and 53rd streets, where they took turns forcing her to give them oral sex in the back of the van, before Martins raped her, according to her attorney.
Following the alleged assault, the detectives dropped the woman off at a Blink Fitness on W. Eighth Street, between Surf and Neptune avenues, just down the road from the 60th Precinct’s station house, David claimed. The woman’s mother took her to the hospital that night, where doctors performed a rape kit — which found Hall and Martins’ genetic material on the defendant, prompting the detectives to argue the sex acts were consensual, a claim the woman denied.
The former cops’ claim of consent prompted Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) to introduce legislation prohibiting law-enforcement officials from claiming such acts with people in their custody are consensual, which state lawmakers signed into law last spring as part of Gov. Cuomo’s executive budget.
Hall and Martins are scheduled to return to court on May 8. David plans to seek a federal prosecutor to file criminal civil-rights violations in the case, he said.