INCIDENT AT HOWARD BEACH
A CASE FOR MURDER
CHARLES J. HYNES and
THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION
The murder that shocked a city and nation and how our justice system works at its best.
Late on the night of December 19, 1986, four black men were driving through the all-white community of Howard Beach, in the New York City borough of Queens, when their car broke down. By the early hours of the next morning, one of them lay dead on the Belt Parkway and one had been beaten nearly to death with a tree limb and a baseball bat by a dozen local teenagers. In the months to come, “Howard Beach” became a code all over the world for the worst in racial tensions. The story behind the Howard Beach incident, its investigation and the subsequent trial is a story of hatred, brutality and deceit; of media outcry, political shuffling and public manipulation; of a cast of characters ranging from petrified politicians to outraged black activists to the quiet citizens of an insular neighborhood. But it was up to one man to bring the case to trial and steer it to its fair conclusion: Special Prosecutor Charles J. “Joe” Hynes. Incident at Howard Beach is his story—a riveting and candid exposé of his fight to discern what really happened that night, his struggle to make a coherent case out of those events, and the battles and tactics he used during the trial a year later in state supreme court. From the on-site investigation through jury selection, behind-the-scenes deal-making, and trial deliberation, here is everything that led to the convictions of the ringleaders and helped to quiet a city in turmoil.
Charles J. Hynes
Charles J. Hynes, the District Attorney of Brooklyn, New York, has been in public service for more than forty years. He has been chief of the Brooklyn DA's Rackets Bureau, a Special State Prosecutor investigating Medicaid Fraud, a Special State Prosecutor for Criminal Justice who prosecuted the Howard Beach case and a New York City Fire Commissioner. He has been the Brooklyn District Attorney since 1990.
Contributing Editor and Chief Military Correspondent of Men's Health, Bob Drury has been nominated for
three National Magazine Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. He is also the author, co-author, or editor of nine
“Re-reading Hynes’s excellent account of this awful racial crime with 25 years of perspective once again brings the blood to rapid boil. I covered that crime. I watched Hynes fight for justice as a special prosecutor in the courtroom. I interviewed him during the trial. I believe that had it not been for his tenacious prosecution in this vile murder New York City would today be a much uglier city. Reading his new Forward and Epilogue reminds me of just how far we have come in race relations in New York since Howard Beach. History will not forget that Hynes had a helluva lot to do with that desperately needed change. For that reason alone this compelling, page-turning book deserves this second look. ”
New York Daily News
About Charles J. Hynes
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Published November 2, 2011
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