FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2023
STATEN ISLAND, NY – Today, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers led by Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R,C-Staten Island), a former Lieutenant with the New York City Police Department, gathered with the family of fallen New York City Housing Police Officer Gerard Carter and dozens of law enforcement officers, their families, and representatives from law enforcement labor unions to oppose the parole board’s potential release of cop killer Shatiek Johnson. The widow of Officer Carter, Jozette, and their son, Louis, were in attendance, along with the families of fallen Police Officers Matthew Dziergowski (EOW 2/14/1999) and Kevin Lee (EOW 1/27/2006).
On the evening of July 26, 1998, Carter sat in a marked police van in the courtyard of the West Brighton Houses when Johnson opened fire, striking the officer with a single bullet that had pierced his brain and lodged itself in his right temporal lobe. Carter succumbed to his injuries after undergoing several hours of surgery.
At 15 years old, Johnson was charged with the murder of a homeless man following a dispute over money and was later released on parole. He then murdered a rival gang member and was wanted by law enforcement when he assassinated Officer Carter. He is currently serving his sentence at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, NY, and, after serving 25 years, is now eligible for parole. The parole board will consider his request sometime in March.
Carter was a decorated member of the New York City Police Department, having earned two Excellent Police Duty Awards, and was honored by the Staten Island Advance in 1995 after stopping a knife-wielding robber who preyed on senior citizens riding elevators at the Stapleton Houses. As a community leader, Carter was involved with the department’s youth explorers program and coached a youth softball league.
In addition to today’s press conference, Reilly is also releasing a letter he penned to the parole board, co-signed by a bipartisan coalition of more than 60 city, state, and federal elected officials, opposing Johnson’s request for parole. A copy of that letter can be viewed online at bit.ly/3Rx7b1Z.
Video of the press conference can be viewed online at youtu.be/iUravbsg9Uk (credit the NYCPBA).
“Make no mistake, the life of a police officer is no more valuable than the life of an average citizen, but our society strongly believes that anyone who kills a police officer is a criminal and that belief is reaffirmed in our laws,” said Reilly. “Officer Carter was a husband, a father, a friend to so many, and, above all else, a hero to his community. Time does not absolve Officer Carter’s assassin, whose name I refuse to say, of the heinous crime that he committed, nor does it heal the pain felt by his wife, Jozette, his son Louis, or the thousands of lives he impacted through his service. Now they are all forced to relive the trauma as they make an impassioned plea to a parole board that lacks empathy and compassion for the families of our fallen protectors. There is no rehabilitation or redemption possible for those who murder our police officers, which is why Officer Carter’s assassin deserves to remain in prison for the rest of his life.”
“Change needs to happen; a change in our laws and a change in the way we deal with criminals who have a disregard for human life! Our opinion on his release is this: the day that Gerard can come home is the day he should be allowed to be released from prison,” said Jozette Carter-Williams.
“P.O. Gerard Carter was a hero killed for protecting his community – the community where he lived and the community where he served. Unfortunately, his family must now begin the sad ritual of reopening their wounds again and again to keep his assassin behind bars. While Assemblymember Reilly and his colleagues work on the parole reforms we desperately need, we need every New Yorker to speak up and send a message to the parole board. There’s no parole for our murdered hero, and there should be no parole for his killer, either,” said Patrick J. Lynch, President of the NYC Police Benevolent Association.
The NYCPBA is also organizing a letter writing campaign to petition the parole board against granting Johnson parole. Submissions can be made using the form at bit.ly/3YnyBtz.
“Police Officer Gerard Carter was only 28 years old when Shatiek Johnson assassinated him in cold blood. This was not a case of mistaken identity as Gerard was gunned down while sitting inside a police car in full uniform. Gerard had his whole life ahead of him, one he dedicated to the service of others. Johnson stole that life from Gerard’s family, community, and the NYPD. It is the responsibility of the Parole Board to ensure that Johnson never sees the light of day. Gerard and his family deserve nothing less,” said Paul DiGiacomo, President of the NYC Detectives Endowment Association.
“We lost a great cop who gave everything to his community. Let this parole board explain to his widow and every law-abiding citizen exactly what this individual can add to society other than what his career has always been… violence,” said Vincent Vallelong, President of the Sergeants Benevolent Association.
“This is just another example of the broken criminal justice system in New York State. Once again, the rights of the criminals supersede the rights of the victim’s family. The murder of Officer Gerard Carter wasn’t the first time that Shatiek Johnson killed someone, so what makes the NYS Parole Board think he won’t kill again,” said Lou Turco, President of the NYC Lieutenants Benevolent Association.