Brooklyn, NY - Jewish Groups Say Hate Crime Charge Against Shuchat Unwarranted
Brooklyn, NY - One week after an Israeli court approved Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ request to extradite a former Crown Heights resident to the United States in order to face charges of a 2008 bias attack, people are rallying to his support, calling the district attorney’s campaign politically motivated and a miscarriage of justice.
Yitzchak Shuchat, who now lives outside of Tel Aviv, was indicted for second degree assault as a hate crime, following the alleged April 2008 beating of a black man, Andrew Charles, on Albany Avenue in Crown Heights. Shuchat, a member of the Shmira crime patrol was responding to a report of two black men throwing rocks at a fourteen year old Jewish girl when the alleged attack occured. An arrest warrant was issued for Shuchat four weeks after the incident, but by that time a nervous Shuchat had left the United States, first for Canada, before finally settling in Israel.
Charles, the son of Moses Charles, an NYPD officer, stated openly on News 12 that he believed the attack was an isolated attack and was not racially motivated. Despite the protests of both Shuchat and Charles, the attack was labeled a bias crime and the district attorney’s office convened a grand jury to conduct an investigation, something that Charles Hynes has done only four times in his twenty two year career as a district attorney.
“We feel the DA’s office has gone over and above the norm to try to bring Yitzhak to trial and bring him back as a trophy to the black community, perhaps because of his father’s position within the NYPD,” Levi Freundlich, Vice President of the Jewish Leadership Council, a Crown Heights based organization that is attempting to raise awareness of this case. “We are suspicious of the district attorney’s motives and consider this to be a gross miscarriage of justice.”
With just weeks left to appeal the extradition, Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind sent a two page letter to Yaakov Ne’eman, Israel’s Minister of Justice, asking him to consider the facts of the case very seriously.
“What makes this a hate crime?” Dov Hikind asked in a VIN News interview. “Based on the simple facts, a patrol went to a location where criminal activity was reported. They went out to protect the community and resulted in what we are now faced with, being charged with a hate crime. I’m sorry, I just don’t see it and I hope my letter will persuade the Minister of Justice to take a closer look and see that this is an alleged assault not a hate crime.”
DA Hynes raised eyebrows at the time by comparing the Shmira patrol to gang members saying, as quoted in the Daily News, “You can’t have a group, whether it’s the Bloods, Crips of Shmira, acting like vigilantes.”
But others questioned Hynes’ strong reaction to this question, questioning his motives.
“They are looking for a scapegoat because this was a police officer’s son,” Daniel Goldstein, Shuchat’s uncle, told the Daily News in 2008.
If convicted, Shuchat faces up to fifteen years in prison.
A web site to help Shuchat was set up by Jewish groups here
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