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BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES STATEMENT ON BROOKLYN DA’S VACATUR OF 90 CASES HANDLED BY FORMER NARCOTICS OFFICER JOSEPH FRANCO

April 7, 2021

 

Contact: Daniel Ball, dball@bds.org

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

BROOKLYN DEFENDER SERVICES STATEMENT ON BROOKLYN DA’S VACATUR OF 90 CASES HANDLED BY FORMER NARCOTICS OFFICER JOSEPH FRANCO

(BROOKLYN, NY) – Maryanne Kaishian, Senior Policy Counsel with Brooklyn Defender Services’ Criminal Defense Practice released the following statement in response to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s dismissal of 90 cases handled by former narcotics officer Joseph Franco:

“The Brooklyn DA’s decision to dismiss prior cases handled by Detective Joseph Franco, who has been indicted for framing people in Manhattan for crimes they did not commit, was the correct one. But while the dismissals handed down today are a first step towards accountability, neither Franco’s indictment nor the dismissal of his prior cases will make his victims whole or address the ongoing abuse of New Yorkers in the name of narcotics enforcement. We have every reason to believe that Franco’s misconduct extends well beyond the instances where his lies were caught on camera, and the accounts we have heard from his victims are a powerful reminder that the harm he and his colleagues have caused is significant and lasting.

This is not a case of a single bad actor. Franco was a member of NYPD units in multiple boroughs operating as a team. He rose through the ranks from an undercover narcotics officer in Brooklyn to a detective in Manhattan, his promotions establishing him as an example of valued police work. Other NYPD members facilitated his abuses, watched him harm New Yorkers, followed his orders, and learned from his conduct.  It would be foolish to believe that the abuse alleged in these indictments is limited to his individual conduct in those specific cases.

Brooklyn North Narcotics, as well as drug enforcement units throughout the City, engage in the same tactics described both in the criminal indictments against Franco and in the accounts of his victims. Specialized narcotics units—and the prosecutions of the cases they bring—continue to amass victims of the War on Drugs without serving any legitimate public health or safety purpose. The NYPD takes great pains to conceal the identity of undercover narcotics officers such as Franco, including from defense counsel, making it nearly impossible to challenge their credibility. NYPD members continue to present falsified evidence against New Yorkers, knowing their testimony is given greater credence than the word of people they target. Prosecutors pursue cases brought by officers known to have committed misconduct and credit the word of officers over people who maintain that they have been harmed by the NYPD, compounding the harms of abusive policing.

A true reckoning with Detective Franco’s conduct is incomplete without the realization that his conduct is not an aberration. We cannot engage only in retroactive attempts at justice, but must dismantle the system that empowered Detective Franco and continues to empower others like him.”

BACKGROUND: Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) is a public defender organization serving tens of thousands of Brooklyn residents each year since 1996. Our mission is to provide high-quality and client-centered criminal, family, and immigration legal representation, as well as civil legal services, social work support and advocacy for people who cannot afford an attorney.