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Questions Over Police Response to Murder of N.Y. Gay Man Still Unanswered

By Jase Peeples

On October 20, gay activist Louis Rispoli was brutally attacked by a group of men while on a walk in Queens, N.Y., resulting in his death four days later, and while the crime continues to be investigated, questions concerning the initial response of the New York Police Department continue to go unanswered.

The New York Times reports that officers who first responded to the 911 call of an assault in progress were unable to communicate with the victim, who had no identification on his person, and incorrectly assessed that no crime had been committed. The responding supervisor instead determined that the severe head trauma Rispoli had sustained was not from an assault but from a drunken fall.

It was only after the 62-year-old victim’s husband, Danyal Lawson, filed a missing-person report, roughly 12 hours after the attack, that detectives were able to identify Rispoli. Yet a crime scene was not established on the corner of 43rd Avenue and 42nd Street until about 5 p.m. the following day, nearly 39 hours after the assault took place.

An investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau into why officers initially assessed that no crime been committed in the attack of Rispoli is now being conducted in tandem with the police department’s investigation of the killing.

The internal investigation has been cited for the reason all requests to release transcripts of the 911 calls and radio dispatches related to the attack have all been denied. Police are not investigating the attack as a hate crime.

Nevertheless, Lawson remains focused on bringing his husband’s killers to justice. “It’s only now that I’m even able to feel angry about it,” he says, assuring police, “I’m not into suing or anything — just find these guys.”

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