Raising Patrick Bailey

The painful journey for justice for an unsung victim of alleged police brutality

Barron says that after the shooting, several top cops hypothesized that officers at the scene felt it was too dangerous for the paramedics to enter the house because other "suspects" may have been hiding inside. That explanation may account for assistant corporation counsel Cornehls's otherwise bizarre insinuations that Patrick Bailey's behavior that night was in some way gang-related, or perhaps the result of a lover's quarrel that culminated in Bailey assaulting Deborah Chuck.

Consider Cornehls's line of questioning of Lloyd Bailey at the April 1998 hearing:

"Do you know whether [Deborah Chuck] was dating Patrick?"

"I don't know," the bemused father replied. "I don't think so, because Deborah Chuck [has] a boyfriend that was, I think, Patrick's friend."

"Do you know whether Patrick and Deborah ever argued or fought?"

"No," Mr. Bailey said.

"Do you know whether Patrick had ever hit Deborah Chuck?"

Roper-Simpson interrupted, demanding, "What does that have to do with what happened on the night of this incident?"

"On the night of October 31, 1997," Cornehls explained, "apparently Patrick was involved in an altercation with a woman who we believe may be Deborah Chuck. I think what their prior relationship was is relevant to that."

In the ensuing months, Charles Barron reluctantly reached out to Brooklyn D.A. Hynes. Barron had been critical of Hynes's handling of a number of controversial shootings of African Americans, including Aswon Watson, who was shot 18 times by two white anti-crime officers in Brooklyn in 1996 after the officers claimed he was reaching for a gun. It turned out to be a Club, the anti-theft car-locking device. Hynes backed the grand jury's decision not to indict the officers, angering many in the African American community.

On February 5, the day after Amadou Diallo allegedly was gunned down by Kenneth Boss and his anti-crime-crusading buddies in the Bronx, Brooklyn assistant D.A. Adam S. Charnoff, who was in charge of the Bailey investigation, contacted Casilda Roper-Simpson. He told her that Boss was the same cop who had shot Bailey.

"The office is on my back to close this case out," Roper-Simpson recalls Charnoff saying. "I need all the witnesses you have." Buoyed by the D.A.'s apparently renewed interest, Roper-Simpson rounded up some of the witnesses. But her exuberance was short-lived.

Three days later, as condemnation of the Diallo shooting rained down on the NYPD and Giuliani, Charnoff told Roper-Simpson that the witnesses she had provided had already been interviewed by his office, and that unless she came up with new ones, Hynes would terminate his investigation. As Roper-Simpson put it, "I used a few expletives. I was upset. I told him, 'This is not fair. Mr. Hynes is playing with the family's emotions.' " Then, in a follow-up letter to Roper-Simpson, Charnoff blamed the Bailey family for the confusion, claiming that they had promised to provide additional witnesses who would "contradict the police officers' recollection of the events leading up to the shooting."

Roper-Simpson denies that the Bailey family made such a promise, adding that it was "Hynes's excuse for sitting on the case for the past 16 months." On February 18, Charnoff met with the Bailey family and their advisers, but Roper-Simpson and Barron also perceived that meeting as an attempt by Hynes at damage control. Barry Schreiber, chief of Hynes's homicide bureau, angered the Bailey group when he allegedly declared that Hynes— and Hynes alone— would decide whether the evidence in the Bailey shooting was strong enough to be presented to a grand jury.

Evadine Bailey cried throughout her harsh interrogation by Grant Cornehls, a tightfisted guardian of the city's coffers. The tears were for her Patrick, not a gangsta named "Popa," a thief, or the woman-beater Cornehls made him out to be. Her Patrick mowed the lawn, helped his mother with her vegetable garden, took the garbage out, mopped the hallways, cleaned the yard, and contributed $400 each month toward the mortgage. "He cooked," she told Cornehls. "Anything I asked him to do he would just say, 'Yes mommy.' "

The last time Mrs. Bailey spoke to her son was two days before he died. Patrick, she recalled, had planned to spend Halloween night with his cousins working on his DJ equipment. Shortly after midnight— after the ghouls in blue had snuffed out Patrick's life— Mrs. Bailey's eldest daughter, Angela, roused her. "Mommy!" she bawled, "Patrick is shot!"

In his final affront to the grieving mother, Cornehls— implying that Bailey may not have suffered before he died— asked, "Do you know how long Patrick was alive after he was shot?"

"I don't know," she sobbed. "I wish I knew."

Research: Karen Mahabir

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