NYPD union head blasts policies that let NYC murder suspect out on parole
"Two people are dead and another injured because this violent recidivist was put back on the street," said police union
By Thomas Tracy, Rocco Parascandola, and Larry McShane
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — State parole officials could have prevented two deaths if they’d done their job and revoked the parole of a convicted criminal newly accused of two murders, a stray-bullet shooting and other crimes, the outraged head of the NYPD’s biggest union said Wednesday.
“This perp is living proof of the dangers of our broken justice system — especially the watered-down parole standards,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said of repeat offender Sundance Oliver. “Two people are dead and another injured because this violent recidivist was put back on the street.”
Oliver, 28, surrendered Tuesday at Brooklyn’s 77th Precinct stationhouse to end a wild four-day crime rampage that allegedly included a gun robbery, an assault on his ex-girlfriend, the pair of cold-blooded murders and the stray-bullet shooting of a 96-year-old man.
Less than an hour before the bullet hit the elderly man, Oliver attempted to rob a 14-year-old boy who stopped at a bodega at Troy Ave. and Union St. in Crown Heights before school, officials said. The terrified boy pulled out the $3 he had for snacks, but the crook didn’t make off with it. It was not immediately clear why the attempted robbery failed.
The suspect in the three-borough crime wave was only free after authorities failed to revoke his parole on a robbery sentence following a pair of gun arrests — the most recent of which came barely three months before the violence spree that brought new charges of murder, assault, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and possession of stolen property.
“The Parole Board has discretion to hold people on extraordinary circumstances, and this appears to be one,” said Richard Aborn, president of the nonprofit Citizens Crime Commission. “Had he been held, you might have two people alive.”
The heavily-tattooed Oliver, a reputed gang member, sports a facial tattoo reading “Rich Forever” and a rap sheet with more than two dozen arrests since 2009.
Oliver spent five years in prison before he was released in 2020.
Soon after his release, in September 2020, he was arrested on gun charges. One of the officers involved in that bust stopped him did so because he saw a cylinder-shaped bulge in Oliver’s fanny pack which looked like a gun, said a police source.
The officer’s observation was correct — it was a gun, said the source.
Oliver was charged, and at some point, according to an NYPD source, the officers involved in the arrest were told by prosecutors not to testify if parole had a hearing, a tactic sometimes used to prevent defense lawyers from parsing different accounts for discrepancies.
Oliver spent 18 months in jail before prosecutors dropped the case. A law enforcement source said prosecutors did not believe police had legal justification to stop Oliver and that the officers involved had credibility issues based on Civilian Complaint Review Board filings in which they were accused of other illegal stops.
But the NYPD source disagreed.
“We believe the DA felt that this was not a slam-dunk case, and he had already spent 18 months behind bars,” the source said. Given the situation, the source said, the DA’s office decided “just let it go.”
In the meantime, Oliver sat in jail awaiting trial.
Finally, after 18 months, the DA dropped the case. “We believe the DA felt that this was not a slam-dunk case, and he had already spent 18 months behind bars,” said a police source. Given the situation, the source said, the DA’s office decided “just let it go.”
“Any allegation of the officers having credibility issues is bogus,” said the source, noting that the officers made other arrests around the same time that were prosecuted.
Oliver’s second arrest as a parolee came on Aug. 27, when he was caught with a handgun after he was shot.
That case became problematic when prosecutors said Oliver was not in possession of the weapon, while the NYPD said the resolution of the charge was pending as the gun was tested for DNA, according to sources.
“At some point, other agencies have to be held accountable,” said an NYPD source familiar with both arrests.
“It can’t just be a guy gets violated [e.g., accused of violating parole] if a crime has been committed. Is he out after curfew? Who is he with? That’s not something that seems to get a lot of attention.”
A spokesperson for the state Department of Correction and Community Supervision (DOCCS) said the agency “filed violations of parole against Mr. Oliver” in the September 2020 and August 2022 arrests, but they could not proceed due to a lack of evidence, as the criminal charges in both cases were ultimately dismissed.
Oliver, who most recently was living in a shelter, also missed his last meeting with a parole officer and failed to report he had changed addresses — also violations of the terms of his parole.
DOCCS said his parole officer was trying unsuccessfully to re-engage with Oliver before the killings. “He [Oliver] was inconsistent in his reporting,” the department said in a statement. “However, not every instance of violative behavior results in a violation ... Mr. Oliver’s alleged criminal conduct and surrender to police came before an absconder warrant could be issued.”
Mayor Adams suggested Tuesday that federal prosecutors take on gun cases, saying the threat of facing federal charges might serve as a deterrent. He called Oliver the “poster child” for his argument.
The alleged gang-banger, who surrendered after the NYPD launched a manhunt, first joined with four other men last week in a Brooklyn street robbery in which the victim was beaten and the attackers fled the Kingsborough Houses with $4,400 in cash. He returned there early Tuesday and allegedly gunned down 17-year-old Keyaira Rattray-Brothers.
In between, Oliver was accused of beating his ex-girlfriend in the Bronx before firing off two gunshots during a Brooklyn bodega hold-up. During that incident, he allegedly opened fire on a rival in a festering dispute but ended up wounding a 96-year-old man in a wheelchair.
He was also accused of killing a 21-year-old man at the Smith Houses on the Lower East Side before turning himself in, with investigators probing whether Oliver was high on PCP during the days of chaos.