A Travesty of Justice

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BY SUPERVISOR GEORGE HOEHMANN

Everyone agrees that killing a police officer is so abhorrent that it warrants the toughest penalties allowed by our criminal justice system — including the death penalty. Everyone, it seems, except for Governor Cuomo.

As supervisor of Clarkstown, the town where the Brinks robbery and murders took place, I am outraged over the Governor’s decision to commute the 75-year to life sentence of Judith Clark. It’s an affront to justice, it’s wrong and it puts a target on the back of every man and woman who puts on the uniform to keep our communities safe.

Governor Cuomo may not remember that day in 1981. Maybe he was cramming for exams at Albany Law. But Clarkstown remembers. I remember.

Judith Clark was a major participant involved in every aspect of the Brinks murders. She carried a 9mm weapon and testimony proved she was used as a decoy. Testimony during the trial also showed that a key part of the plan was to utilize Judith Clark and Kathy Boudin to throw off police.

Evidence proved that the police let down their guard at the behest of pleas from Ms. Boudin and not viewing Judith Clark as a threat.  If not for this deception and the preplanning that allowed for this to take place, Sergeant Edward O’Grady and Police Officer Waverly Brown would have had a fair chance and perhaps survived the ensuing gun battle. Instead it was a calculated death trap.

After all shots were fired Sergeant Edward O’Grady and Police Officer Waverly Brown were slain only moments after Security Guard Peter Paige had been cut down. No amount of time can mitigate this action and no claim of rehabilitation can justify commuting this sentence.

An attack on law enforcement requires the most severe penalties and commuting a sentence that was justly served, without even consulting the families of the fallen, is an affront to law enforcement and civilized people everywhere. One thing we know is true—no one can commute the sentence savagely delivered to the officers and their families. The trauma our community suffered alone should have allowed the sentence of Judith Clark to stand the test of time.

I now pray that the parole board will not share the misguided decision of Governor Cuomo and will reject any future bid for parole. I pray that they agree that killing a police officer is so abhorrent that it warrants the toughest penalties allowed by our criminal justice. I pray that they realize that the lives of Sergeant Edward O’Grady, Police Officer Waverly Brown and Security Guard Peter Paige were worth much much more than 35 years.

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