Saturday, 01 Oct 2022

Gunman killed in Bronx shootout with NYPD cops was freed without bail by judge after 2020 weapon bust

Long Island (Writer)-The shooter killed in a Bronx gunfight with two NYPD cops was turned loose by a judge over the protests of prosecutors following his March 2020 arrest for carrying a loaded weapon.

Prosecutors requested $50,000 bail after Rameek Smith, 25, was busted while armed with a .32 caliber pistol two years ago in Coney Island — but the request was rejected in October 2020 by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Denny Chun, said a spokesman for the borough district attorney.

Smith was instead released without bail and remained free after pleading guilty this past December.

Both Mayor Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell questioned why the gunman was walking the streets Tuesday night despite the gun rap from March 14, 2020, and eight other prior arrests.

“Who the hell will protect the innocent New Yorkers in this city?” asked the mayor, a former police officer, after the lethal shootout. “That’s the question we have to ask ourselves.”

The lethal confrontation began when NYPD Officer Dennis Vargas and his partner, in uniform and inside an unmarked police car, tried to stop Smith near Claremont Parkway and Bathgate Ave. in Claremont about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday. Smith ran off, firing at Vargas and his partner as they pursued him. The cops fired back and Smith was fatally shot in the head.

Vargas was treated and released from Lincoln Hospital for a gunshot wound to the left arm.

The Legal Aid Society ripped into Adams for his comments and insisted that controversial state bail reform had nothing to do with why Smith was free.

“We caution New Yorkers on crediting the mayor’s unconscionable fear-mongering about last night’s killing,” the organization said in a statement. “In the end, a young man, struggling with multiple ailments, had his life cut short, and the public should not lose sight of that regardless of incendiary comments from City Hall.”

As part of his plea agreement, Smith was placed in an alternative to incarceration/mental health program called Rev Core, where participants join weekly group sessions while receiving mentoring along with regular drug and alcohol testing, said Lucian Chalfen, spokesman for the Office of Court Administration.

The latest weapons charge became bail-eligible based on Smith’s 2016 arrest as part of a criminal quartet who robbed a a man on the subway, leading to a felony conviction, said a spokesman for the DA.

In the prior case, Smith approached his target and demanded money before the robbers pushed the victim against the wall, a source familiar with the case told the Long island Writer Newspaper.

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