TAJ PATTERSON, COPS PREMATURELY CLOSED CASE, WILL HE FINALLY GET JUSTICE?
Taj Patterson is a member of LM’s Wall of Courage. He endured abuse at the hands of a group of Hassidic men. Many who knew of the story believed at the time that the cops were “paid” to drop the charges. Apparently Zahra Patterson, who has been indefatigable in her efforts to bring Taj justice, knew the same thing. Perhaps he will get justice yet…
EXCLUSIVE: NYPD nearly ended probe into vicious assault of gay black man because cops prematurely closed the case
Patterson suffered savage injuries — a broken eye socket and a torn retina that has left him permanently blind in one eye.
Investigators knew the license plate number of one of the assailants and even had four witness statements, according to records obtained by The News.
But within 24 hours, cops in the 90th Precinct classified the attack as a misdemeanor and inexplicably marked the complaint “final, no arrests, CLOSED,” records show.
It was only after the dogged efforts of the victim’s mother that the case was reopened and five men subsequently arrested.
The new details about the investigation emerged as the NYPD is facing a federal corruption probe focused in part on a member of the Borough Park Shomrim, the Jewish volunteer patrol, accused of bribing cops with cash and other gifts.
“The Patterson case demonstrates a disturbing disparity in access to justice between Taj Patterson’s community and the Orthodox community, which flows directly from the NYPD’s high-ranking collusion with the vigilante Shomrim patrols,” said Patterson’s lawyer, Andrew Stoll.
Patterson told The News he was shocked that cops initially closed the investigation.
“I think they saw this black kid . . . and they might have seen the Jewish guys and thought he must have done something wrong because the Jewish guys wouldn’t do anything wrong,” Patterson said.
The NYPD didn’t answer specific questions posed by The News. Instead, a police spokesman issued a general statement.
“The hate crime task force investigated this incident and effected several arrests during the course of the investigation,” the statement read.
Patterson, a fashion student at New York City College of Technology, was walking to his Fort Greene home after a night of partying when he was ambushed.
Among the witnesses who came to Patterson’s aid was a 58-year-old MTA bus driver.
“That wasn’t a misdemeanor,” the driver said.
“They were actually stomping and kicking him,” added the witness, who asked to remain anonymous. “One of his eyes was closed and so swollen. He was saying, ‘My eye. I can’t see.’ ”
In the days after the attack, Patterson and his mother, Zahra, searched for information about the police investigation. They went to two police stations before they were directed to the 90th precinct stationhouse where the Pattersons were given a copy of the police report and told the investigation was closed.
The report inexplicably stated there was only one attacker and noted that Patterson was “highly intoxicated, uncooperative and incoherent.”
The Pattersons were stunned. Taj had been beaten into unconsciousness. How could he possibly provide details to the police immediately afterward?
“You can’t just close the case and leave him half-dead and blind on the street,” said Zahra Patterson, 54. “You can’t do that.”
Zahra reached out to a friend with media contacts. News stories followed. Investigators showed up at Patterson’s house a few days later.
The five suspects — Abraham Winkler, 39; Aharon Hollender, 28; Mayer Herskovic, 21; Joseph Fried, 25, and Pinchas Braver, 19 — were indicted in April 2014 on felony gang assault charges after a probe by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.
Charges have been dismissed against Fried and Hollender. The others are expected to appear in court in 10 days.
“If his mom wasn’t as persistent as she was, this would have gone absolutely nowhere,” said another Patterson lawyer, Amy Robinson.
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