New York police have identified and arrested the person they say drew a gun and fired two shots at a man trying to strong-arm rob a woman in a Manhattan subway station this week, and a judge has ordered the defendant to remain behind bars unless or until he can come up with $10,000 for bail.
43-year-old John Rote was arrested without incident at his workplace on Wednesday afternoon, and while his public defender attorney argued that he should be set free until trial, citing his lack of criminal history and long-time employment, the judge overseeing his initial court appearance declined her request.
“I’m asking that my client be released today so that he can come back and continue fighting this case from outside rather than inside Rikers Island,” the public defender said.
Judge Jay Weiner set bail at $10,000 cash, bond or credit card at the request of prosecutors, noting the seriousness of the charges and the potential flight risk Rote posed due to his out-of-state connections.
A grand jury will review the case on Nov. 14, when Rote is due back in court, Weiner added.
No one was injured in the incident, not even the man who was accosting a woman and threatening to steal her belongings, but Rote will still remain behind bars on charges of criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm, reckless endangerment and menacing. That’s a stark departure from what we’ve seen with other criminal defendants in New York City who’ve been charged with crimes that had nothing to do with coming to the defense of another. Here are just a few examples:
Man nabbed for random attack on NYU student out without bail for striking woman with tree branch in Manhattan – NY Daily News, September 16, 2023
NY repeat felon breaks Yonkers police officer’s nose with ‘sucker punch,’ released without bail, police say – Fox News, September 14, 2023
Knife-wielding Times Square maniac Deqon Massiah released without bail – New York Post, July 14, 2023
Notoriously soft-on-crime judge releases migrant who allegedly stabbed a man in Times Square without bail – New York Post, October 14, 2023
NYC dad with 70 prior arrests is freed without bail after home-alone kids trapped, seriously injured in fire – New York Post, August 21, 2023
You can punch a cop, assault a woman on the street, and even stab someone in Times Square with a knife and walk free without having to post a penny to bond out, but Rote is going to remain in Riker’s Island for the foreseeable future because he allegedly dared to violate New York’s gun control laws and was caught after trying to prevent a crime from taking place.
Seems like a great candidate for conscientious acquittal. If only we still used jury trials as the default mechanism for resolving criminal charges.
— Clark Neily (@ConLawWarrior) November 9, 2023
The vast majority of criminal cases may be decided by a plea bargain instead of a jury of the defendant’s peers but in order for the case against Rote to move forward a grand jury is going to have to sign off on the charges, and that might not be as easy as prosecutors are hoping for. Earlier this year a grand jury declined to indict a New York man who fatally stabbed another man on a New York City subway car after he was charged with manslaughter and weapon possession. Unlike Rote, Jordan Williams was also released without bail, even though he was facing far more serious charges.
The grand jury apparently believed that Williams was acting in defense of himself and others when he stabbed a man who’d allegedly been harassing passengers (including Williams’ girlfriend) and acting belligerently and erratically while on board a moving subway car. Hopefully Rote will go before a grand jury that’s equally sympathetic and understanding of the circumstances in which he allegedly fired two shots at a man threatening another, but the disparate treatment he’s already received in the criminal justice system is cause for concern… and more evidence that New York City’s gun control laws are doing far more harm to those trying to exercise their right to keep and bear arms than the violent and offenders who are being set free without so much as a slap on the wrist.