Following his personal attention to the prosecution of Saquan Evans for the murder of 20-month-old Rashaad Walker, Jr. in November 2010, District Attorney William Fitzpatrick reflected that he thought the case would have a watershed moment for the community in terms of gang violence, but it didn’t. “The immediate impact,” he noted later, “is Saquan Evans will never be on the streets again.” Evans faces a possible life sentence from the conviction for a murder attributed to gang related activity, but also faces charges from another gang related shooting and a federal RICO prosecution of members of the Bricktown gang. “That’s a good thing,” Fitzpatrick added. “What I had hoped for in 2010 at the time of the shooting was that there would be some type of public reaction to the death of a 20-month-old baby, similar to what we see with the death of Trayvon Martin.”
For perspective, Fitzpatrick explained, in the Martin case it had not yet been established “who punched who, and whose voice was on the 911 tape.” But with Evans, it was clear cut. “A pathetic idiot,” the DA called him, for committing a crime while wearing a GPS tracking ankle bracelet which showed him at the scene of the crime at the time it happened, and in his grandfather’s backyard where police later found the murder weapon. A further irony disclosed Evans’ motivation in attempting to shoot the infant’s father as retaliation for the drive-by shooting of the late basketball star Kihary Blue two days earlier, attributed, some say in error, to the 110 gang.
Prosecuting the next gang generation
“I thought, and I think justifiably, that OK, this is what we need,” Fitzpatrick maintained. “In New York City, the murder rate in the late 80s, early 90s, was over 2,200 people a year, six a day. Now it’s less than 600. What happened? You might argue we got Giuliani instead of Dinkins. But there was a case of a family who came from Utah every year, and a young kid was killed protecting his mother during a robbery. It didn’t have racial overtones, but it was everything that was wrong with New York City in a nutshell. The economic engine of New York City is tourism, aside from Wall Street. You kill that, you’re going to bite your nose off to spite your face. That really galvanized people, probably helped Rudy get elected, and it just changed people’s attitudes about crime.”
In Syracuse, however, according to Fitzpatrick, there was little more than “the usual panoply of clichés: Let’s have a dialogue. Let’s have a rally. Let’s have a candlelight vigil. Let’s have an anti-violence march. Let’s put some ribbons where the baby was shot. And I don’t even know if we had that — we’ve become so inured to it. Sometimes I get tired. I get prosecutorial fatigue. I’m ending up prosecuting kids of people I prosecuted ten years ago.”
Next week: Altering the street culture