Cops are hunting a Park Slope sex fiend responsible for a May 23 attack — a man witnesses say they detained at the scene, until police let him go.
Residents of 16th Street heard a woman shouting for help at 5 am and grabbed a man they believe attacked the victim near Fourth Avenue, but when cops showed up they let him go because the victim had returned to her home a few houses away, an onlooker told The Brooklyn Paper.
Donald Harrington says he peeked out his window after he heard the scream and saw a creep in a baseball cap running away.
Another neighbor chased the man down and held him until cops showed up 15 minutes later — but when they learned the victim had gone home they set the man free, Harrington claims.
“I pointed to her house and said, ‘She’s four or five houses down on the right,’ ” he said. “They said she wasn’t there so they just let him go.”
Two officers involved in the incident have been placed on modified duty pending an investigation, an NYPD spokesman said. Cops at the 72nd Precinct declined to comment on Thursday.
Cops can’t file charges without a victim’s cooperation — but critics say the way police handled the situation is bizarre for two reasons: the victim’s close proximity to the scene, and the fact that cops sent out press releases and distributed surveillance videos the following day showing a suspect who Harrington says resembles the man his neighbors detained.
The move is lazy at best and, at worst, a procedural violation worthy of a reprimand, say legal experts with the National Police Accountability Project, a non-profit comprised of lawyers.
“You would think they would at least get identification,” said Rochelle Berliner, a criminal lawyer with the organization. “It’s just common sense.”
The situation outrages neighbors who say cops should investigate sexual assault cases in the area more thoroughly, especially after last year’s spate of attacks in south Park Slope, which began in warm weather months.
“What [cops] have learned from last year is how to put a public relations spin on all of this,” said neighbor Aaron Brashear. “I have a spin for them: do your job.”
The attack comes after more than 20 women were assaulted in the South Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Sunset Park, and Bay Ridge last year — and ample press coverage.
It also comes after dozens of community meetings with cops and hundreds of fliers featuring images of previous suspects.
“Now, it all seems like a charade,” said neighbor Bo Samajopoulos. “It’s a problem.”