20,000 signatures reached
To: Queens DA Richard A. Brown
Chanel Lewis Deserves A Fair Trial
We demand that Queens DA Richard A. Brown make a public statement regarding the racial profiling and prosecutorial misconduct related to Chanel Lewis' case and conviction within his jurisdiction.
Why is this important?
Under Queens DA Richard A. Brown's watch, a local judge has denied three motions that have brought new evidence of racial profiling and prosecutorial misconduct to the case of Chanel Lewis - a Black, disabled man from Howard Beach who was convicted of murder on April 1st and is facing the possibility of life without parole. Chanel, who recently graduated from the Martin De Porres School for developmentally delayed children, was handed a guilty verdict after just five hours of jury deliberation in his second trial, the first having been declared a mistrial with a hung jury. One of the jurors from his second trial has already come forward anonymously to say he is concerned they may have convicted the wrong man, claiming that they were never given access to Chanel’s taped confessions, and that when the jury alerted Judge Michael Aloise that they were deadlocked, he pressured them to come to a verdict that night, anyway.
Chanel’s conviction comes on the heels of an anonymous tip that has revealed the existence of a previously unreported NYPD database of DNA swabs of over 350 Black men from the neighborhood. Many of these men, like Chanel, had no prior contact with the criminal justice system and were questioned and swabbed despite the fact that the NYPD’s investigation named two “‘jacked up’ white men” as its initial suspects. Months after Vetrano’s murder, Chanel became a suspect after being profiled by an officer in the neighborhood who followed him for ‘looking suspicious.’ In both trials, Chanel’s defense has pointed to the ways that the collection and transportation of DNA samples from the crime scene were mishandled by the NYPD. And they say that during both trials, they were not alerted to the existence of the DNA database by the prosecution at all, a clear Brady violation.
To anyone who followed the Central Park Five case in Chanel’s very own city three decades ago, this will sound painfully familiar. There is a long history of faulty, inconsistent DNA testing and coerced confessions being used to secure the false convictions of Black people in this country. As a Black man and a disabled person who was not granted access to the support or advocacy that was his constitutional right, Chanel Lewis' case sets a precedent for continued profiling within a racially biased and unbalanced judiciary system.
This is not right. Despite the prosecution’s mishandling of this case and despite the fact that Judge Aloise was given credible evidence that pointed to the possible existence of another suspect, both he and the Queens DA’s office have insisted that they have found Karina Vetrano’s killer. Those of us who have watched countless Black people criminalized and convicted on insufficient or shaky evidence say that this is not enough. We demand that Queens DA Richard A. Brown go on the record and give a public accounting of the prosecutorial misconduct related to Chanel’s case now!
Judge denies motion for mistrial in Karina Vetrano case | WPIX 11 New York
Chanel Lewis, 22, is currently on retrial accused of raping and strangling 30-year-old Karina Vetrano - Buzz News 24 Hours
Case of Jogger’s Murder Hinges, in Part, on Questions Over a Police Stop - The New York Times
Questions Around the Chanel Lewis Conviction | The Brian Lehrer Show | WNYC
Brady Rule | Wex Legal Dictionary / Encyclopedia | LII / Legal Information Institute
How it will be delivered
Petition delivery to the Queens DA Office