Civil rights groups: Officials engaged in 'misinformation campaign' blaming man's death on criminal justice reform

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Is the state's new discovery reform to blame for the death of a witness in an MS-13 trial? A group of advocates says no, and they want an apology.

Civil rights groups are calling out elected officials and law enforcement for their portrayal of the criminal justice reform that took effect Jan. 1. Groups gathered outside a Nassau courthouse, accusing some county and police officials of engaging in a "misinformation campaign fueled by a political agenda."

"Now that poor people have the same opportunity to go back to their homes and jobs, all of a sudden our community is filled with criminals," says Susan Gottehrer, of the Nassau County New York Civil Liberties Union.

Advocates are also demanding an apology from Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder for blaming the death of an MS-13 witness on part of the new criminal justice law. Ryder later issued a correction, saying there was no link between the new law and the murder of Wilmer Maldonado Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was found dead outside an abandoned home in New Cassel earlier this week. During a press conference, Ryder took aim at a change in law that required prosecutors to turn over Rodriguez's identity to defense attorneys.

Despite issuing the correction, Ryder said Friday, "I stand behind the information that I presented at the press conference which is accurate."

"Bail reform simply allows those without money to be afforded the same American justice system," says Serena Ligouri of the New Hour for Women and Children LI."The privileges that everyone else with non-violent offenses has. It is access to freedom until they are proven innocent or guilty in a court of law. We believe in equal justice."

News 12 put in a call to Ryder's office, but it did not immediately respond.

Civil rights groups: Officials engaged in 'misinformation campaign' blaming man's death on criminal justice reform

MORE: Victim's rights groups, defense attorneys split on discovery material reforms 

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