Sunnyside residents have doubts about police investigation into local man’s murder

Crime scene vehicle (Sunday evening)

By Christian Murray and Bill Parry

Many residents are questioning the way the police handled the investigation into the death of Woodside resident Lou Rispoli, who died several days after being savagely beaten outside of a 43rd Avenue apartment building in Sunnyside.

Rispoli was struck once in the back of the head by a hard object on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 2:00 am. The police were quick to arrive on the scene, only to leave once Rispoli was placed in an ambulance and taken to Elmhurst hospital. However, what happened for the next 36 hours in the investigation remains a mystery.

The police didn’t come back to the scene with their crime scene evidence vehicle until late Sunday afternoon. It was only then that the block was cordoned off with the “crime scene” yellow tape, as they sought to gather evidence. The detectives at the time were searching for evidence under cars with their flashlights, supposedly for the blunt object that struck Rispoli. There was nothing.

Since then, many residents have been asking why it took the police so long to get the investigation going­—and did it reduce the chances that the perpetrators, believed to be three men in their 20s, got caught.

On Thursday night, Liz Taylor, a Sunnyside resident, attended the monthly Community Board 2 meeting to ask Captain Donald Powers, the commanding officer of the 108 police precinct, that very question.

Powers was scheduled to speak but was suddenly unable to attend due to issues pertaining to Hurricane Sandy. Powers, who was promoted to Deputy Inspector this week, was also unable to answer these questions at Tuesday’s police precinct meeting since the meeting was canceled due to the storm.

Taylor instead asked councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who attended the Community Board 2 meeting, that same question. She asked him whether he believed the precinct was slow to respond and whether the police acted according to normal protocol.

“I have talked to Captain Powers and there are a lot of unanswered questions about the investigation,” Van Bramer said. “I think it is a fair question to ask why the evidence vehicle did not show up until Sunday [as opposed to Saturday morning]. I have some of the same questions you have, and we will find out what happened.”

Many residents of 41-00 43rd Ave. have expressed similar doubts as to what they see as a lack of urgency in the investigation. They argue that the perpetrators had more time to flee and the evidence was more likely to disappear over the 36 hour gap.

Several residents of the building claim that they were never interviewed by detectives. Furthermore, the residents said the police were slow to distribute fliers that asked the public for any information.

As the story unfolded over the course of the following week, the public learned sketchy details regarding the incident. According to officials, the perpetrators were in a SUV or 2-door vehicle with Rispoli. Then, they all got out of the vehicle and Rispoli was walking with two of the men near 41-00 43rd Avenue (bet. 41nd and 42nd) before one of them struck him.

Many residents didn’t know a crime had even been committed outside the building several days after it occurred.

“The police are always clamoring for public participation. The only way that can happen is if they inform us that something has happened,” Tony O’Sullivan, a nearby resident, said.

Meanwhile, Patrick Langhenry, a legal aid attorney, said the precinct was behind the eight-ball from the get-go. “I hear they are short staffed and …don’t seem to know how to do old fashioned crime solving.”

Langhenry also pointed to the size of the precinct: it stretches from the East River to 72nd St. in Woodside. He said that the 108 has had to channel more resources into Long Island City as that area has grown.

Meanwhile, Kevin Leddy, a resident with three children, said: “God, if it was one of my loved ones I’d be tearing apart the 108 looking for answers to these questions.”

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20 Responses to Sunnyside residents have doubts about police investigation into local man’s murder

  1. Spitfire

    Put the traffic cops on to the case. The second you park some where you shouldn't, they're there in a flash ready to hand the wrong-doer a ticket. Perhaps they could apply that same zeal to a murder investigation.

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  2. JuliaJ.

    The 108th needs real PROS for this investigation. And they need to keep the victim's face and the details in the press and in the community.

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  3. Ruben

    The Victim is being treated like some latino from the south side .

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  4. Robert

    There is no accountability within the police force. Sure, they are quick to pat themselves on the back and get in front of the camera with whiny Bloomberg when they do something right but that just is doing your job! They should be fired if they don't do their jobs correctly or at least written up or demoted like in the real world. They huddle together on the streets to chat with each other all day when splitting up might be more effective. I know it is dangerous if they are alone but that's why they get paid decently and get pensions after just 20 years. Don't take the paycheck if you don't want to be in danger bc that's what you signed up for! Let's not even get into the attitudes they have or the cover ups/corruption.

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  5. Long time sunnysider

    Def think the 108 precinct needs an overhaul . They say that crime s not bad in Sunnyside compared to other parts of the city.Guess what??? That's the reason why I choose to live in Sunnyside over 20 years ago.That doesn't mean we hav to accept unacceptable behavior from our local precinct in incidences like this. Find this man killers NOW and make them pay the price!

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  6. Paul Maringelli

    Everybody knows most cops follow like sheep. None of them can "think outside the box" - it's isn't like TV where a master detective looks at a scene and sees clues everyone else has missed. It's more like a couple of lummoxes stumble around miss the evidence everyone else sees.
    On the other hand cops are only sent where thay are needed. When Sunnyside & Woodside residents don't report crimes it's assumed that there is no crime and no cops are needed here so New York City sends their police force to other precincts and other boros.

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  7. Craic Dealer

    I've been saying it for YEARS. Police can not protect a neighborhood as well as their residences. A tight neighborhood watch communicates to people that they should respect themselves and everyone there. And its sends a message to police that they need the community more than the community needs a fat police force.

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  8. Long time sunnysider

    Go to any community and listen to the capt of the 108 ( IF he shows up) tell us how safe our neigherhood s and give us statistics about what it was in the 1980s and how much it has improved since then. Personally I don't care about the 80s I care about NOW.
    108 we need more police presence on our streets and a quicker response time to 911 calls. I hav to do my job when I go to work it's time ye did yours.

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  9. sara vallejo

    I wonder if Ruben ever went to College, he always has a racist comment to make, regardless of the situation.

    however, I do agree that police action has been limited and probably now more with the issue of the storm. furthermore, we need every building in our area to get cameras, sunnyside's crime rate escalated in the past months and we see everything from robbery to murder,, we definitely don't live in the most prestigious neighborhood of queens to be afraid of walking home at night.

    the 108 precinct however does not provide a deep connection with sunnyside. They are far, and we are a big neighborhood. We need more police presence and we need a precinct closer to us.

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  10. sara vallejo

    the big question is what we want to do about it? , keep complaining or meet with them and demand their presence in our neighborhood. It will be always up to US.

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  11. Long time sunnysider

    At Sara I hav been leaving comments on this site for a long time about going to the local meetings. Im sure I haven't seen ur face at the united 40s meeting. There s always a representative from the 108 precinct there and we ask them many many questions about our neigherhood . The next meeting s this Thursday nite at 7 pm at st Theresa's auditorium.so if u really care about ur neigherhood ul b there.

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  12. sara vallejo

    I volunteer with EQUAL (empowered queens united action and leadership), where we guide communities to get organize and improve the environment of their neighborhoods, schools and safety. I definitely can't Thursdays because I have class, but i think we can meet also at sunnyside's reformed church other day, like wednesday/friday/monday, it will be a matter of talking with my coordinator from equal. but definitely I want to be part of my neighborhood.

    Sunnyside is a very broad neighborhood and since so many people lives in a privileged economic status we are being left behind by the city.

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  13. frank

    Let's not start bashing the officers. They do what they are told to do. Blame politicians for not providing enough funds, and for spending all the money on meter maids instead of cops

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  14. sunnyside gansta

    They just opened a Dunkin Donuts on Vernon Blvd- clearly driving all the way to Sunnyside is now not necessary

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  15. Ruben

    Sara, looks like all that money you spent on college didn't buy you common sense. Exactly what in my comment was racist? my statement is aimed at the lack of police interest in a crime, statistically it's how many minorities are treated when it comes to crimes. So again I ask...how is my statement racist? or are you that much of a judgmental twit that you pounce on anybody who makes a statement that includes a race?

    That being said, If you are a Minority like I am then you understand how there is a big difference with how police treat you and your cases. It's not racist , it's statistics.

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  16. Safe in Sunnyside

    Let's try and remember the victim - come on folks - it was MURDER! Stop your bickering for god's sake. As far as OUR Dunkin Donut Doughboys - well "they" have their priorities!!!!! A professional investigator should be hired for this case - and THIS crime should be solved!!! Hate kills and killers love to hate. Just catch them and jail them for life.

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  17. SuperWittySmitty

    I don't know, Ruben, you have a history of making provocative remarks. Referring to how "latinos from the south side" get treated differently is a loaded statement- you will find people will either disagree with your opinion, or maybe misunderstand the fine point you are tying to make. Either way, you shouldn't be surprised or indignant when their are responses.

    Sara- their are racists, bigots, and narrow-minded people everywhere. I think Ruben is trying to start a discussion by being opinionated, by saying outrageous things, hoping folks will respond. It has NOTHING to do with an education, or lack of one.

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  18. Sara vallejo

    "The victim is being treated like some Latino from the south side" is like me saying , the victim is being treated like a black in the 1940's , it is offensive for the community being assimilated with the crime and for the victim also. When we live in a multicultural setting these kind of comparison limit with abuse of freedom of speech.

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  19. Sara vallejo

    Regardless of the race/age/gender/sexuality , the point of the article is that police is not doing enough.

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  20. Heartbroken

    A neighborhood is only as good as the neighborliness of its residents. If you are withholding information in regards to Lou Rispoli's attack, PLEASE be brave and call 800-577-TIPS. There is a $22,000 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of his killer -

    It's easy to point fingers at the police, but they can only do so much with whatever information they have. Your help might make ALL the difference.

    Thank you -

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