Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said he has never been as angry as he was on Jan. 23, when a Brooklyn judge sentenced 17-year-old Justin Murrell to 16 months to four years in prison for assaulting NYPD Detective Dalsh Veve, of North Baldwin.
“She spit on every [police] shield, on every chest in this city,” Lynch shouted, referring to Justice Ruth Shillingford, as he spoke outside Brooklyn Supreme Court. “She spit on [the Veve] family. She spit on that hero.”
Murrell attempted to flee in a stolen vehicle in June 2017 after Veve, a 10-year NYPD veteran with the 67th Precinct, attempted to speak with him. The officer hung onto the car for several blocks before he fell. Veve, who spent weeks in a medically induced coma, sustained severe brain damage and now uses a wheelchair and requires 24-hour care.
He was released from a New Jersey rehabilitation center in May after a nearly yearlong recovery. Dozens of police officers applauded him as he left the facility.
“Eighteen months later, we are still trying to put the pieces of our life together,” Esther Veve, Dalsh’s wife, told the judge. “You can’t imagine how that breaks my heart.” The family did not speak as they left the courtroom after the sentencing.
In December 2018, Murrell was acquitted of attempted murder charges but convicted of first-degree assault. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez argued that Murrell should be sentenced to 3 1/2 to 10 years behind bars, but Shillingford ignored that recommendation.
Shillingford, a New York City Criminal Court judge since 2003, did not return a call requesting comment. The Legal Aid Society, which represented Murrell, defended Shillingford’s decision to consider Murrell’s age before handing down the sentence.
“Since the day of the incident, the Police Benevolent Association and others have villainized our 15-year-old client and manipulated the facts,” the group said in a prepared statement. “We are disappointed that at a press conference, PBA President Patrick Lynch made incendiary comments demonstrating a lack of respect for the judiciary and the court process.”
Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, a former NYPD detective, said Shillingford should retire. “I have been in the Veve home and have seen the devastation that Murrell caused on the lives of Veve, Ester and their family,” D’Esposito, a Republican from Island Park, said on his official Facebook page. “And now, they don’t even get justice.”
Oren Yaniv, a spokesman for Gonzalez, said Murrell had numerous opportunities to take the right path. According to published reports, he was a purported member of the Crips street gang and had had 11 run-ins with police by age 15.
“The judge should have therefore imposed the maximum sentence, and it is regrettable that she failed to do so,” Oriv said in an email. “The rule of law, the safety of our police officers and the circumstances of this case demanded a more appropriate penalty.”
Lynch said Murrell should have been treated as an adult. “His decisions were adult decisions,” he said. “The results changed lives.” He also criticized other judges who gave Murrell light sentences for other crimes, such as robbery. “To say that science says that as a child you’ll grow out of it and won’t commit crimes,” Lynch said, “well, the science of that courtroom says otherwise. This is wrong.”
On Twitter, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill called the sentence a disgrace. “Our brave & selfless public servant, his family and all #NYC cops deserve far better,” he wrote. “Justice fell short today.”