Just a few days before Christmas, two New York City police officers were assassinated as they sat in their patrol car outside a Brooklyn housing project as part of a ramped-up patrol to counteract possible dangers to residents. As information on the man who killed them becomes clearer, evidence shows that he had an extensive criminal record and made angry social media posts that may have presaged his violent rampage.
Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, shot his girlfriend in Baltimore before traveling to New York and shooting Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu as they sat in their squad car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area where they had been reassigned due to high crime rates. Brinsley, who was estranged from his family, had an extensive criminal record in Georgia and Ohio including shoplifting and criminal weapons possession, but he seems to have escalated to serious violence beginning with shooting his girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson, 29, before traveling to Brooklyn to kill the police officers. Instagram postings from earlier that day by Brinsley refer to putting “wings on pigs,” a supposed referenced to killing police officers.
The Line Between Criminal and Civil
Unfortunately, even when someone has an extensive criminal record, as in this case, that person is not always incarcerated, particularly when the crimes are of a financial or non-violent nature. Many crimes are committed by those with mental issues, leading to advocacy for treatment instead of incarceration. The problem with this approach is that it is impossible to know which non-violent criminals may escalate to violence, as in this case.
There is also a line between criminal conduct and civil torts that sometimes becomes blurred in the minds of the public. A person who injures someone else while committing a criminal act may be punished by the criminal court system, but this will not compensate the victim for his or her losses. In fact, pursuing a criminal case against someone who has injured you may preclude you from collecting damages if the person is unable to work and pay what he or she owes. Therefore, it is important to balance the need to keep the community safe with the need for victims of violence to collect compensation for their injuries.
The Fitzgerald Law Firm in New York represents victims of all types of injuries, including those caused by violence. Contact us today if you have been the victim of a violent crime to discuss ways to recover damages in your case.