Legal Aid Society urges mayor to be transparent about evidence lost in NYPD warehouse fire

The group is concerned that when the warehouse that stored decades of DNA evidence in Red Hook went up in flames earlier this month, it may have changed the fate of those who are wrongfully convicted.

News 12 Staff

Dec 22, 2022, 1:45 AM

Updated 540 days ago

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The Legal Aid Society wants Mayor Eric Adams to be clear about what was lost when a fire damaged an NYPD warehouse in Brooklyn.
The group is concerned that when the warehouse that stored decades of DNA evidence in Red Hook went up in flames earlier this month, it may have changed the fate of those who are wrongfully convicted.
Elizabeth Felber, with the Legal Aid Society, says DNA is the gold standard for evidence and criminal justice and that is why this fire is detrimental to the system's flow.
This is why the group has penned a letter to the mayor to be more transparent.
"We want an accounting of what was destroyed. We want to know every single item that was in that facility…whether it is still in any kind of condition to be tested, which seems unlikely. What clients do those items correspond to, whose cases were affected by this fire,” Felber says.
She adds that the Legal Aid Society also wants a committee that includes those who have been wrongfully convicted, public defenders, district attorney offices, the mayor and NYPD to come up with a plan to make sure DNA evidence is more secure in the future.
“Why aren't they doing a better job? Why is the building so rundown and ram shackled? Why are they storing e-bikes, which I hear is a huge fire hazard? So there has to be accountability on how they can do it better and must do it better,” Felber says.
She says the fire made her job much harder when her clients were wrongfully convicted but not impossible.
"We will have to come up with a remedy and perhaps persuade the different DA's offices to agree to at least release our clients or agree that they are actually innocent since they have taken away this key avenue of relief,” Felber says.


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