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Unanswered questions surround NYPD evidence warehouse fire 3 months later

Three months after an NYPD evidence warehouse went up in flames, there are still unanswered questions surrounding the aftermath of the fire.

News 12 Staff

Apr 1, 2023, 2:25 AM

Updated 475 days ago

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Three months after an NYPD evidence warehouse went up in flames, there are still unanswered questions surrounding the aftermath of the fire.  
Attorney Elizabeth Felber only recently found out that her client’s path to freedom was thwarted because of evidence lost at Erie Basin, despite her, Legal Aid Society and other public defenders pressing the city and the NYPD for a complete list of evidence and names of cases impacted by the fire last December.  
“The district attorney reached out to have fingerprints retested and we got a letter that they had looked and they couldn’t find them…they were probably in Erie Basin,” said Felber. “Had they been able to locate the fingerprints and identified it as this person, I think it would have been game over and our client would have been exonerated by now."
A statement from the NYPD regarding a letter from Legal Aid Society reads as follows:  
"Virtually all the evidence that was located within the Erie Basin Hanger was destroyed, with the exception of 8 barrels, which are being reviewed and documented. Currently, the NYPD is working closely with the District Attorney's offices, on a case-by-case basis, to verify the location and status of each specific evidence request. Relating to the physical structure, a comprehensive capital project to address the electrical grid was in progress, and construction was about to commence."
The Legal Aid Society says there are seven NYPD evidence storage facilities they know of, including Erie Basin. It’s still not clear how much evidence was in the warehouse, and it is unclear how much of it was lost, but the NYPD and city say they are not legally required to notify anyone if the evidence is lost or damaged.
Last December, News 12 Investigates told viewers this was the second time evidence was damaged at the Red Hook warehouse – in 2012, 5,000 55-gallon drums with DNA evidence were destroyed at the same location.  
Felber says she is still at a standstill on whether or not she will pursue impact litigation.  


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