‘Catch, release and repeat’: Mayor Adams fumes over release of teen who attacked cop in Harlem subway station

Mayor Eric Adams again rebuked the New York City criminal justice system Tuesday after a teenager who engaged in a brutal fight with an NYPD officer inside the subway system was apparently set free.

A viral video of the hard-to-watch brawl between the teen and a transit officer made the rounds on social media, leaving viewers shocked by the brazen attack. The incident reportedly occurred at the 125th Street and Lexington Avenue station in East Harlem on Saturday and stemmed from an alleged fare evasion.

Two NYPD officers reportedly approached a young man and woman for attempting to skip fare payments and asked the pair to leave the station. However, the young man responded with a flurry of voracious punches that saw the start of a dramatic scuffle before the female also began to unload several punches on the officer. Both men were left bloody.

According to eyewitness reports, the officers engaged the pair not due to fare evasion but instead an alleged domestic dispute.

Yet even after the violent attack upon the police officer, according to published reports, the suspect was set free.

On July 26, Mayor Adams commented on the attack, charging that the teen involved is no stranger to crime and is a prime example of the city’s current “catch and release” system, believing that this method of governing criminal justice leaves both law enforcement and the public at risk.

“Just a few days ago. He’s arrested for robbery. Catch, release, repeat, catch, release, repeat. This person was arrested for robbery a few days ago. Now he’s back, and decides he’s not going to pay his fare. The transit officer communicated with him. He decided that he was not going to leave the system,” Adams said. “The transit officer could have arrested him for not paying his fare. He didn’t do that. Told him to leave this system and the response we saw in the video is what happened. Just a total disregard for public safety not only for public safety for that transit officer, but also for the person he robbed.”

“This is what we are saying about what is happening in our criminal justice system,” Adams added. 

Hizzoner again called for a reexamination of bail laws in the area of violent offenders, robberies of violent crimes, flagging these arrested individuals rather than re-releasing them back into the streets. Adams believes the current state of the criminal justice system has made New York City the laughingstock of the nation. 

Adams shared that he has had numerous discussions with Governor Kathy Hochul regarding public safety and the efforts that need to be put forth to keep dangerous individuals off of the streets. While he states that policy changes will be an uphill battle, Adams calls upon the judges and prosecutors to do their part. 

“But it’s really the timing for the future because whatever we enact right now, how much impact is it going to have for those who are on the streets? There are things judges can do right now, they can use their discretion right now, and I’m calling on them to do that. I think there are things prosecutors can do right now. We need to expedite some of these sentences. We need to expedite these cases inside our courts and take dangerous people off the streets. I think that while we’re waiting for changes in these laws, which is going to be an uphill battle, there are things we can do right now,” Adams said. 

The mayor also assured New Yorkers that the NYPD are making arrests, despite misconceptions as to why so many dangerous individuals are committing crimes, but he says that he wants to create more visibility as to the parts of the criminal justice system that are failing the city.  

“We have to really start showing what this issue is because people have a belief that the police department is not making arrests, and they’re not finding these dangerous people. That’s just not true. And so we are going to start showing the public how the other parts of the criminal justice system, those parts are failing us. Police are doing a job. Gun arrests are up. You know many of the dangerous crimes, predatory crimes, the arrests are being made.  Catch, release, repeat and I’m not comfortable with that,” Adams said. 

The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York also shared their outrage over the viral footage showcasing the fight via Twitter. 

“If New Yorkers want to know why the chaos in the transit system is not improving more quickly — this is why. The criminals underground know they can get in a brawl, choke a cop and be back out in hours. Cops are putting ourselves on the line to make the subways safer, but we are feeling abandoned by a justice system that won’t back us up,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said.