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Police Say Storm Damaged Evidence

The New York Times Company,
Link to Article

Brooklyn, NY

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Tuesday that facilities used for storing evidence in criminal cases suffered flooding during Hurricane Sandy.

“In some of our storage locations we have evidence that has been damaged,” Mr. Kelly told reporters Tuesday morning. “Significant flooding has taken place, no question about it.”

The damaged evidence may include DNA samples, he said.

Mr. Kelly said the property clerk facilities that experienced flooding were in Brooklyn, and at least one is in the Greenpoint neighborhood. It was not immediately clear whether the evidence at issue was being stored for use in pending prosecutions, or was in storage following convictions.

“We’re still trying to sort through this and assess the total damage,” he said.

Mr. Kelly said the damage to the evidence could potentially affect the outcome of individual criminal cases. “We’ll see,” he said.

Prosecutors say they are concerned that the damage to evidence stored at the Erie Basin and Kingsland facilities, both located in Brooklyn, could affect ongoing cases.

In a worst-case scenario, evidence could have been washed away in the storm’s flood waters, jeopardizing cases and potentially leading to suspects being freed.

“We are waiting for an inventory before we can evaluate what the impact will be,” said Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney.

Prosecutors said that it did not appear that evidence collected in active rape cases — so-called rape kits — were stored at either of the facilities, though a definitive accounting of the contents of the facility had yet to be released.

“At this time, it has not been determined if any evidence involving Queens County cases has been affected,” a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney, Helen Peterson, said in a statement.

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