By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
This week, their quiet campaign for justice could get a resounding boost or be dealt a lethal blow.
The Voice has learned that Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes once the darling of the African American civil rights community for his prosecution of a racist white gang in Howard Beach, but now reviled in some quarters for allegedly protecting cops involved in racially motivated assaults and slayings will release his long-awaited report on the circumstances surrounding the Bailey shooting.
Hynes's decision to disclose his findings was due partly to persistent Voice inquiries about criticism that he was dragging his feet on the investigation and rumors that he was leaning toward clearing Boss of any criminal wrongdoing.
The investigation had been deadlocked over a dispute with the Bailey family concerning prosecutors' alleged refusal to interview some witnesses to the shooting of the 22-year-old aspiring stockbroker, who doubled as a super at his mother's two-story brick house at 731 Sheffield Avenue in East New York.
Last week, in an apparent about-face, Hynes, speaking through his top aide, Dennis Hawkins, told the Voice that "recent publicity has generated some interest" in the Bailey case. "There are now potential extra witnesses, who we are in the process of interviewing," Hawkins said.
One of those witnesses, sources say, is a black youth who identified himself as "Chucky McDaniels." In 1997, he told Christopher O'Donoghue, a reporter for Channel 9, that Boss and three other unidentified members of the NYPD's marauding Anti-Crime Unit did not identify themselves before opening fire on Bailey. "They didn't say, 'Freeze!' or nothin'," said McDaniels of the elite team, which is condemned in black neighborhoods as a "snuff squad" empowered by Mayor Rudy Giuliani to take back the night. "They just kicked the door in an' started shootin'."
Based on Hynes's dismal record of prosecuting allegedly brutal cops, attorney Casilda Roper-Simpson and community activist Charles Barron, advisers to the Bailey family, are wary. (Since Hynes took office in 1990 there have been 76 fatal police shootings in Brooklyn, but only 23 cases were presented to grand juries.) Roper-Simpson and Barron view Hynes's eleventh-hour maneuver as a public-relations gimmick. The D.A., they assert, is a selective prosecutor, and they predict he will let Boss walk.
"He's pathetic!" scoffs Barron, a former Black Panther Party member. "We've brought him all kinds of evidence in the past. We've brought bullet-riddled bodies, eyewitnesses. He does not indict police officers!"
Hawkins shrugged off charges that Hynes botched the investigation into Bailey's death, allowing a racist killer cop to remain on the force and allegedly kill again. Boss and three other cops unloaded 41 bullets at Amadou Diallo, hitting him 19 times, in the vestibule of Diallo's Bronx apartment building on February 4. A witness said all four undercover cops fired after one of them shouted, "He's got a gun!" No gun was found.
"The blood of Patrick Bailey and Amadou Diallo is on the hands of Charles Hynes," Barron declares.
Shortly before telling the Voice that he would extend his investigation, Hynes's spokesman maintained that the Bailey family's contention that the shooting was unjustified does not match the evidence. "There are police and civilian witnesses who place [a] shotgun in Patrick Bailey's hands before he was shot," said Hawkins.
Although an unloaded and inoperable shotgun allegedly was recovered at the scene, witnesses interviewed by the family insist that Bailey was unarmed. Police say that Bailey a Wall Street clerk and amateur DJ, who was known in his neighborhood as "Teacher," was wielding a sawed-off shotgun when Boss and his partners chased him into his home. They said that upon entering, the officers encountered Bailey sitting on the steps pointing the gun at them.
According to handwritten notes of an autopsy conducted by the city medical examiner, Bailey "is said to have . . . fired on police who returned fire." Boss reportedly squeezed off two rounds from his 9mm Glock. One bullet struck Bailey in the right thigh, the other pierced his right hip and right buttock and passed through his penis, severing a main artery. Bailey died at Brookdale Hospital. As the investigation unfolded, police, after first conceding that the shotgun was empty and could not be fired, then claimed that the officers had opened fire because they believed that Bailey was holding a woman hostage.
In October 1998, Patrick Bailey's parents filed a $155 million civil rights complaint in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, claiming that the cops responsible for their son's death were enforcing "a policy and custom of overly aggressive policing created and established by" Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir.
The accusations appeared to rattle the tough-talking Giuliani administration, which tried to portray Patrick Bailey as a petty criminal and gang member whose actions caused his own death, according to documents related to a separate wrongful death claim filed with the city corporation counsel shortly after the shooting.