Foil: Your right to Know.
The Journal News reported on Thursday that calls for the resignation of Rockland’s District Attorney Thomas Walsh were arriving from across the State. Walsh’s plea deal with the two defendants in the deadly Evergreen fire has ignited a backlash from firefighters and their organizations all over New York who told the paper, “They want Walsh to resign. And they’ve told him he’s no longer welcome at firefighter functions.”
DA Walsh is running unopposed for another term as Rockland County District Attorney
Six letters sent to Walsh prior to and after his plea-deal offer were cited by the Journal:
EDWARD TASE, JR. of the Fire Association of the State of New York wrote on behalf of the State’s 80,000 volunteer firefighters:
“A plea deal will send a chilling message to all first responders that their selfless service can be bargained away in pursuit of an expeditious legal process for wrongdoers. … A plea deal in this case would have a devastating effect on the morale of the fire service and would negatively impact public safety across New York.”
MICHAEL G. KARASHAY, President of the Hudson Valley Volunteer Firefighter’s Association that represents 1,800 firefighters in 496 fire departments in 16 Hudson Valley Counties wrote to Walsh in mid-June prior to the announcement of the plea deal:
“Jared Lloyd gave his life selflessly to ensure the safety of the citizens of his community. Jared was honored, posthumously, by this association as Firefighter of the Year in 2022. … This Association urges the Rockland County DA’s office to reconsider allowing a plea bargain in this case or any case where a firefighter loses their life due to negligence.”
KEVIN HUSLINGER, President of the Rockland County Fire Chiefs’ Association also warned Walsh in a letter prior to the deal:
“The absence of punishment for conduct that leads to death of first responders encourages future violations that will result in equally disastrous and tragic outcomes. … Your office mantra is ‘Seek Justice, Serve Justice, Do Justice.’ A plea deal in this case will have a devastating effect on the morale of the fire service and will negatively impact public safety across New York. We feel that the comprehensive investigation that was undertaken since that dark day in 2021 and the actions that caused the heinous tragic event should have warranted full prosecution for all individuals who may be responsible.”
Walsh chose to ignore all three requests. His office announced the agreement to accept no trial, no jail, and a modest $600 payment for court costs in exchange for the acceptance of the admissions of guilt on the charges of manslaughter and reckless endangerment that ended the lives of volunteer Jared Lloyd and Oliver Hueston, a resident of the Evergreen facility.
After the deal was made public, the response from local firefighters got even louder, and they reminded the public of the DA’s hypocritical promise to obtain justice for Jared and his family.
From the officers and members of Volunteer Hose Co. 2 Fire Company in West Haverstraw: “Over the past two years, you publicly promised on numerous occasions that you would obtain justice for Jared and his family. … We have witnessed empty promises as every single individual charged in this case by your office had their cases dismissed, were NOT held accountable, and walked freely out of the courtroom back to their families, something that Jared Lloyd will never be able to do.
“DA Walsh, your messaging is loud and clear, the life of a volunteer firefighter in Rockland County, N.Y., is worth nothing more than probation and fines.
“Since you betrayed the trust of the firefighters here in Rockland County, through your choices, we request you immediately resign your public office and furthermore, you are no longer welcome to attend any firefighter events hosted by Volunteer Hose Co. 2, here in the Village of West Haverstraw.”
From the officers and members of the Sloatsburg Fire Department: “You have repeatedly vowed to serve justice to those who were responsible for starting the fire. You told this to Floyd’s family, to the family of Oliver Hueston, and repeatedly to the Rockland County Fire Service. Today, you offered a jail-less plea bargain to the individuals responsible for starting that fire. Today, you robbed us all of any justice that you so vehemently vowed to serve.
“You have betrayed members of our department and of the Rockland County Fire Service. Your incompetence has resulted in all six individuals you charged with being connected to this fire to now walk the streets free.
“You must immediately resign your position of Rockland County District Attorney.
“Please know that you, or anybody from your office, are not welcome to any fire department or community event here in the Village of Sloatsburg. We refuse to be associated with or support any person who lets criminals free while innocent civilians suffer.”
From the officers and members of the Hillburn Fire Department: “As a department we cannot support any person or organization that supports criminals while the lives of hundreds of innocent people are destroyed. As a result, the officers and members of the Hillburn Fire Department are requesting your immediate resignation as Rockland County District Attorney. As of June 21, 2023, you, as well as any member from your office are no longer welcome to any function hosted by the Hillburn Fire Department in the Village of Hillburn.”
From the officers and members of Stony Point’s Wayne Hose Co. No. 1: “We are writing to you to express our displeasure and anger over your actions. … You and your office made promises to the fire service and the people of Rockland County ‘to hold those responsible accountable.’ Promises you have not kept. … Since you have betrayed all of the people you are sworn to protect, we demand that you immediately resign. … We make you this promise. Neither you, nor anyone from your office, will not be welcomed at any event hosted or run by Wayne Hose Co. No. 1, here in the town of Stony Point. Unlike you, this is a promise we intend to keep.”
When the Journal reporters asked Jared Lloyd’s mother, Sabrail Davenport, for her response to the plea deal, she said, “She fully supports calls for Walsh to resign. She said he claimed justice would be done but sold out her son and her family with the no-jail plea.”
“Probation is not what the people want,” she said. “They admitted in court to what they did but they weren’t sincere. They did it so they wouldn’t go to jail. That’s not justice for Jared.”
She said Walsh “embarrassed Rockland County and sent out the message that killing somebody doesn’t matter.”
When calls were made to Walsh’s office for his comment, those calls were not returned. Not surprising when you consider his deaf response to firefighters around the state.
County Executive Ed Day has since publicly called on Walsh to find a public venue and explain his reasons for the decision to refuse to go to trial.
Read the complete Journal News coverage here.