Family of slain Barnard student say NYPD union boss blamed victim for her own murder
The family of slain Barnard College student Tessa Majors ripped a New York City police union official on Monday for declaring on a radio show that she was “in the park to buy marijuana” when she was killed.
“The remarks by Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins we find deeply inappropriate, as they intentionally or unintentionally direct blame onto Tess, a young woman, for her own murder," Majors’ family said in a statement. "We would ask Mr. Mullins not to engage in such irresponsible public speculation, just as the NYPD asked our family not to comment as it conducts the investigation."
NYPD investigators have not divulged what the 18-year-old college student was doing in Morningside Park, located in northern Manhattan near Barnard College, when she was stabbed to death last Wednesday.
Mullins later apologized and insisted his comments "were taken out context" and were directed at Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"This student Tess Majors is clearly a victim of a robbery homicide," he said in remarks that first appeared on ABC7NY. "She went to a prestigious school. Her family is suffering. But in many ways, I blame the mayor for trying to slant this in a different direction."
Mullins, who has long been an outspoken critic of both the NYPD leadership and de Blasio, said he was trying to make the point that crime had increased in Morningside Park and that the mayor's policies were to blame.
"The hands of the police in this city have been tied by this mayor, and I do not apologize for that," he said. "What I do apologize for is if the family of Tess Majors believes that I intended in any way or made a disparaging comment that their daughter was justified in being murdered, that's totally incorrect and never should they have thought that."
Mullins made the comments Sunday on a local morning radio show where he complained about what he views as lax enforcement of marijuana laws in New York City.
“An 18-year-old college student at one of the most prestigious universities is murdered in a park, and what I’m understanding, she was in the park to buy marijuana,” Mullins told radio host John Catsimatidis. “And you think about that, we don’t enforce marijuana laws anymore. We’re basically hands-off on the enforcement of marijuana.”
“So here we have a student murdered by a 13-year-old and we have a common denominator of marijuana. You know, my question to the people of New York City is, ‘Why is this happening?’”
A short time later, de Blasio fired back at Mullins on Twitter, calling his remarks “heartless.” “We don’t shame victims in this city,” he tweeted.
Think of Tessa’s parents, her friends.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 15, 2019
This is heartless.
We don’t shame victims in this city. https://t.co/c3HM9gIvSh
Also, while Mullins implied that the 13-year-old charged in the case wielded the knife, prosecutors said he allegedly handed the murder weapon to another teen who then fatally stabbed Majors.
The 13-year-old, who was arrested Thursday, is charged with second-degree murder, robbery and a weapons-related charge. He has a court appearance on Tuesday.
As of Monday, the 13-year-old was the only suspect in police custody and investigators were seeking to question another teenager in connection with the killing, according to an NYPD spokesperson.
A 14-year-old was taken into custody Friday and questioned about the murder, the child was released without charges on Saturday, local newspapers reported.
A promising musician from Charlottesville, Virginia, who had played bass guitar in a punk rock band, Majors was attacked shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday near Barnard’s campus by what police believe was a trio of teens seeking to rob her.
While one of the teens put Majors in a chokehold and the others searched her pockets, the college student fought back and bit the finger of one of the robbers.
"During the struggle, one of the individuals pulled out a knife and stabbed her several times," NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said Thursday. "She staggered her way up the street. One of the security guards saw her and called 911."
She was pronounced dead of stab wounds at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital.