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Mistrial shakes police ranks - Ruling in Timoshenko murder case leaves many stunned

The Brooklyn Paper
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While prosecutors hammer out a new trial date for accused cop killer Lee Woods, cops from throughout the borough are still reeling from the heartache they suffered in a Kings County courtroom.

“You couldn’t fathom the response,” said one Brooklyn South police officer who attended the court proceedings out of respect for the family of Police Officer Russell Timoshenko, who was gunned down during a routine traffic stop in 2007. “I’ve gone to a lot of cop funerals and a lot of trials for cop killers, but I’ve never seen as much pain as I saw in that courtroom when the Judge declared a mistrial [for Woods]. You could actually feel just how upset everyone was.”

Just two days before Christmas, Judge Plummer Lott declared a mistrial after a juror claimed that he was too ill to continue deliberating.

The week before, two separate juries found suspected shooter Dexter Bostic guilty of murder in the second degree in the killing of Officer Timoshenko. A third suspect, Robert Ellis was acquitted of the murder, but found guilty of weapons possession charges.

Trials for all three men were held in the same courtroom at the same time, albeit with different juries.

Timoshenko died of gunshot wounds he suffered after a simple car stop turned into a gunfight with car thieves.

He and his partner Herman Yan were on patrol when they observed a suspicious vehicle at the corner of Lefferts and Rogers avenues.

The officers ran the plates, only to discover that the vehicle had been reported stolen.

That’s when someone inside the vehicle opened fire, hitting Timoshenko twice in the face.

Yan was shot in chest and arm, officials said.

The suspects sped off and abandoned the stolen SUV – with their three guns inside – at the corner of Kingston and Lefferts avenues, police said.

Timoshenko died of his injuries a few days later, officials said. Yan, who was saved by his bullet-proof vest, wasn’t seriously injured.

Woods, Bostic and Ellis were arrested following a massive manhunt that took investigators to Pennsylvania.

During the group trial, prosecutors outlined their case against the three men with the help of testimony from Officer Yan, a friend of the trio who was forced to help the suspects flee the city, a female acquaintance of one of the men who had heard them talking about the cop killing and a jailhouse snitch who claimed that one of the suspects admitted to killing the young officer.

Attorneys for the trio tried to build reasonable doubt by claiming that it was unclear who had actually shot Timoshenko and who was driving the SUV as it raced from the scene.

Timoshenko’s family was outraged by the split-decision.

“There’s no justice in this country,” Officer Timoshenko’s mother Tatyana told the Daily News. “It [the case] is so obvious, I don’t know how much more evidence you need.”

The shock and pain felt in the courtroom reverberated throughout Patrol Borough Brooklyn South all the way to the office of the borough commander.

“I was as surprised and shocked by the conclusion the Ellis jury came to as any New Yorker,” Chief Joseph Fox said. “I also thank and commend the Bostic jury for doing their duty, following their oath and their courage.”

Regarding Woods, Fox said that he and his officers are “simply hoping for peace and justice in the upcoming trial.”

A spokesperson for the Kings County District Attorney’s office said that a date for a new trial has not been set. Prosecutors and Woods’ attorney are expected to meet next week to work out a new schedule.

It’s guaranteed that, once again, Brooklyn South cops will be in abundance in the courtroom gallery.

“What they [Timoshenko’s family] wanted was their son to live in peace. For them to know there’s justice,” Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch told reporters after the mistrial. “We’ll be back again. New York City police officers will be there and the Timoshenko family will be there.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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