In wake of arrest, elected officials debate impact of new bail reform
BAY RIDGE — Cops think they have the man who assaulted and attempted to rape a woman at the R train 95th Street station on the morning of Monday, Jan. 27.
Initial information provided by the NYPD indicated that the suspect, 20-year-old Arjun Tyler, who was picked up on Friday, Jan. 31, had been charged with rape and assault, with the rape charge modified in a later communication from the NYPD to be attempted rape. However, so far, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office has only charged Tyler with larceny and possession of stolen property.
Police say that on the day of the attack, the victim, who had boarded the southbound R train in Forest Hills, went into the station bathroom when she got off the train at the line’s final stop at around 10 a.m. It was there that an assailant, dressed in all black and wearing a black ski mask, allegedly followed her inside and punched her in the face, choked her and tried to assault her sexually. The woman screamed and the attacker took off.
City Councilmember Justin Brannan said on Facebook that a good Samaritan had come to the victim’s aid. “Looks like a good samaritan got involved & stopped it,” he wrote.
In the wake of cops taking Tyler into custody, and early reporting tying him to the alleged assault at 95th Street, elected officials have been chiming in regarding the issue of bail reform and its role in this case.
The New York Daily News reported that Tyler had been confined to Rikers Island — unable to pay $20,000 bail on a series of crimes he allegedly committed in 2018 — until last Dec. 19. His case was reviewed under the state’s new bail reform laws and he was set free, court documents and sources with knowledge of the case said, according to the News.
The reports of the arrest set off a debate between elected officials on both sides of the issue as to whether bail reform was responsible for a potentially dangerous person being released into the streets of New York.
Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis contended, “This dangerous law passed in Albany is creating an environment that tells criminals New York is no longer a law-and-order state. It’s very problematic because there is an environment of lawlessness that has been created by these recent law changes.
“This attempted rape was 100 percent preventable,” she went on. “This perpetrator was held on other charges, but because of this bail law and the governor’s decision to review pending cases and release individuals being held prior to this law taking effect, he was back on the streets, enabling him to prey on this woman. This heinous crime was 100 percent preventable and 100 percent correlated with the new bail law and no one can dispute that.”
However, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes said that, contrary to what those opposed to bail reform have suggested, “There is absolutely zero difference in how attempted rape or violent felonies get treated under the current laws vs. under the previous laws.
“This horrendous crime never, ever should have happened,” he went on. “It’s a tragedy that it did. The fact is, repeat offenders can automatically have bail set and this person was a repeat offender. Let’s be clear: This outcome was absolutely unacceptable. We can’t allow people who attack women or terrorize vulnerable members of our community to go free any more than we can allow innocent people to languish in prison.”
“I commend our local cops for catching this guy and getting him off the street swiftly. People can rest easier today now that he is in custody,” he said. “But, I am furious because this should have never, ever happened. A woman’s life was put at risk and is now forever changed. This guy was a repeat offender and should have never been released from jail in the first place.”
However, he contended in a Facebook post, that the suspect’s “release was based on judicial and prosecutorial discretion — not the new bail laws..
“Bottom line is that this person’s release was based on judicial and prosecutorial discretion, not the new bail reform laws,” he wrote. “He was arrested on a July 2018 charge, paid bail, was out and then rearrested on a new felony in Dec 2018 — which means the new bail law actually provided for his continued detention. In December 2019, the prosecutor could have argued against his release based on the fact that while he was out (after posting bail), he allegedly committed a new felony and therefore would have been bail/jail eligible under the new law.
“The judge also could have kept him in after a clear and convincing hearing (where the transcript from his grand jury indictment could have been used) but decided to release him instead.”
However, the Legal Aid Society attorney representing Tyler is disputing the early reporting in the incident. “What happened to Mr. Tyler over the weekend is shameful,” contended Marie Ndiaye, supervising attorney of the Decarceration Project at the Legal Aid Society. “In a desperate attempt to fear-monger over the new bail laws, the NYPD arrested our young client and threw him to the wolves without first investigating the alleged incident. Mr. Tyler was detained for 40 hours, paraded out of a precinct and walked in front of press which led to him being erroneously accused by two local tabloids of a serious crime.
“After a careful review of documentation provided to us by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and based on NYPD paperwork, Mr. Tyler was not arrested on, and has not been charged with, any sex offense. Period,” Ndiaye went on. “This is a new low for the New York City Police Department, which seems to be more concerned with leaking cases to the press to malign the new bail reforms than with getting basic case facts correct.”
According to the Daily News, Tyler had been arrested nearly a dozen times in Brooklyn and Manhattan before his incarceration in 2018. He was busted for forcible touching in February 2018, according to the News.
Tyler will be back in court on Thursday, Feb. 6.