Outrage, Protests After Driver Mows Down, Kills Two Black Men in Long Island
By Michael Sainato
In June 2017, Christopher Bouchard, a 27 year old man from Mastic Beach in Suffolk County, Long Island used his mini-van to run down 19 year old Keenen King, and 20 year old Anthony Holmes-Garriques on Montauk Highway in North Bellport. The two boys were on a dirt bike that Bouchard alleged was stolen from Bouchard's brother, Brian Bouchard, who was in the car with him.
Bouchard rammed into the two boys, killing them both, and reportedly tried to load the dirt bike into his mini-van after hitting them with his car. So far, Bouchard has only been charged with reckless endangerment, despite the deaths of the two boys and having a prior DWI offense on his record. His brother was not charged with anything as an accomplice.
The minor charge has incited outrage from family members and activists in the Suffolk County area toward a District Attorney's office that has been marred in corruption controversy. The County's DA, Democrat Thomas Spota, announced he wouldn't be seeking re-election this November in the wake of a Justice Department inquiry into corrupted cases after serving in office for 16 years. The Democratic Party nominated the Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini to run for the County's District Attorney's Office to replace Spota. The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Assistant District Attorney Raymond Varuolo told NewsDay his office would be seeking higher charges, but none have yet been filed as the reckless endangerment charge is scheduled to begin proceedings in court on October 6 after Bouchard plead not guilty to the reckless endangerment charge in late June 2017. Lina Garriques, the mother of Anthony Holmes-Garrique told NewsDay before the arraignment, “he’s a good kid,” she said. “I’ve got to bury my son for a dirt bike?”
On September 12, organizers, activists, and members of King and Holmes' family have scheduled a protest outside the Suffolk County District Attorney's office to call for Bouchard's brother to be charged in the crime, subpoena social media evidence that proves premeditation over allegations that Bouchard posted on social media several times that he intended to kill whoever stole the dirt bike, and for Bouchard's charges to be increased to reflect the crime he committed.
"Many people are getting involved in organizing around this case for this reason that it's something that reflects so much more than what it is," said Rachel Silang, a Suffolk County resident organizing the protest, in an interview with me. "It's so obvious, especially in the national conversation about Black Lives Matter and what's going on and what's happening here. White supremacy is giving this path as freedom and stability to just kill out of whim and then get no real consequences, so we're fighting to make sure the DA knows that people are paying attention to this and that we're gonna continue to be out here."
She added that the District Attorney hasn't met with the family yet, and the case was supposed to begin in June when Bouchard was indicted, but it was postponed by the judge until October. Due to the Suffolk County District Attorney's upcoming election and corruption probes, Silang and others speculate this case is being downplayed to mitigate media attention and political implications if the charges were increased to manslaughter or murder. "They were supposed to up the charges. They were supposed to have added things. There were so many things that were supposed to have happened, but Bouchard wasn't even brought to the courtroom," Silang said. "We have four different witnesses who weren't even interviewed by the DA yet until this past week, but it's outrageous that it took that long to interview. Another kid who was there who was also riding the bikes with them, they haven't been interviewed up until now and he was 17, so he has to go back to school. It's just been a little crazy in terms of the way that they're doing things here and they're unaccountable to anybody."