Brooklyn, NY – A gang member who nearly killed a New York police officer by dragging him with a stolen car walked out of a juvenile detention center as a free man on Wednesday.
The violent encounter left 38-year-old New York Police Department (NYPD) Detective Dalsh Veve, a married father of a young daughter, with catastrophic brain damage.
He now relies on a wheelchair, and must have around-the clock medical care.
Despite having 11 arrests on his criminal history by the age of 15, reputed Crips member Justin Murrell was sentenced to just 16 months to four years in juvenile detention for nearly killing Det. Veve, the New York Daily News reported.
“Ten years was the max he could have gotten and he didn’t even get half of that,” said the detective’s wife, Esther Veve. “I don’t think any time would have justified what he did, so for him not to have gotten the maximum was even worse…It was a slap in the face.”
Murrell, who is now 18, was set for release on Wednesday.
Det. Veve, who was born in Haiti, was one of multiple NYPD officers who responded to a report of shots fired in the area of East 53rd Street and Tilden Avenue on June 3, 2017, according to the New York Daily News.
During the course of the investigation, he spotted Murrell behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle, WCBS reported.
But as he was speaking with the 15-year-old, Murrell suddenly stomped on the accelerator and rammed into him.
Det. Veve desperately clung to the fleeing vehicle as it hit speeds of nearly 60 miles per hour, the New York Daily News reported.
Although he was dragged for several blocks, Det. Veve managed to fire one round, striking the teen in the jaw.
The detective ultimately fell from the fleeing car, suffering catastrophic injuries to his head and body.
Murrell and his two passengers took off from the scene on foot to seek medical treatment for his gunshot wound.
Det. Veve was kept in a medically-induced coma for weeks, and will need to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, WCBS reported.
Murrell was initially charged as an adult for the offense of attempted murder, but a jury ultimately convicted him of first-degree assault, the New York Daily News reported.
During the sentencing hearing in January of 2019, Esther told the court that her husband will never fully recover from the injuries Murrell caused, and that he sometimes still does not recognize her or their daughter, the New York Post reported.
“I’m speaking now because my husband is not able to speak for himself,” she said. “Eighteen months later, we are still trying to put the pieces of our life together…There have been moments when he can’t recognize his little [4-year-old] girl, and you can imagine how that breaks our hearts.”
The lenient sentence handed down by Judge Ruth Shillingford immediately prompted outrage among law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and their supporters.
“[The judge] spit on every shield on every chest in the city,” Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch told reporters outside the courtroom. “She spit on our hero…And she spit on that family…How dare she?”
“I’ve been a police officer for 35 years. I have never been so angry in my entire life,” Lynch said. “I’ve never sat in a courtroom where a judge sat and looked at a police officer confined to a wheelchair, heard the [wife] speak of how their lives have changed, talked about a 4-year-old that will not feel the hug of her father, and then say this mutt should be treated as a child!”
“His decisions were adult decisions,” Lynch continued. “The results changed lives. I warn the people of this city, in four years, this potential cop killer will be back on the street.”
Lynch’s statements came just over one year before Murrell’s actual release.
The NYPD also released a statement in the wake of the gang member’s lenient sentencing.
“Detective Dalsh Veve served the people of New York City bravely and selflessly, and in that service sustained injuries that he will carry with him for the rest of his life,” the NYPD said, according to WABC.
“The short period of time this young criminal faces pales in comparison to the sacrifice made by Dalsh and his wife and young daughter, who saw their lives changed forever by this outrageous crime,” the department said. “Justice fell short today, and Dalsh, his family, and police officers across the city deserve far better.”
During a recent 10-day span, Det. Veve went through a series of five surgeries due to his injuries, the New York Daily News reported.
Esther said she learned that the man who nearly killed her husband was set to be released just after Det. Veve went through the third procedure.
She explained that her husband still has extreme difficulty speaking and needs constant care, all of which has caused their daughter to notice that her father is different than most people.
“She asks typical questions that a 5-year-old would ask,” Esther told the New York Daily News. “She wants Daddy to drop her at school. She wants Daddy to read her a book at night. She wants Daddy to play hide-and-seek with her. But I still go around [the questions]. When the time comes, she’ll find out. But now is not the time.”