Latino, immigrant and civil rights advocates, concerned that no arrests have been made in a 2010 slaying of one immigrant and an attack on another in Shirley, called Wednesday for Suffolk police to solve the crimes and for federal officials to examine the case.
They gathered outside U.S. District Court in Central Islip to call attention to the killing of Jose Sanchez and the attack on Antonio Tum on Oct. 6, 2010, complaining about a department that agreed in December to fight hate crimes aggressively after a four-year federal probe into its policing in minority communities.
"We are calling for the feds to come in and investigate this department further than what they already have, and very specifically we want them [Suffolk police] to finish this criminal investigation," said Juan Cartagena, president of LatinoJustice, an advocacy group based in Manhattan.
Cartagena, leading the coalition of Long Island groups, said the U.S. Department of Justice must consider "whether the race of the victims in that murder and attack may have contributed to the failing to investigate."
Robert Nardoza, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, declined to comment, saying his office does not confirm whether it is investigating a case. The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment.
Deputy Chief Kevin Fallon, a Suffolk County Police Department spokesman, said in a written statement that investigation of the Sanchez slaying and the assault on Tum "is open and active, and it would be inappropriate to release evidentiary details and/or the steps taken to solve this homicide and assault. However, we can assure the public that this case is being thoroughly investigated."
Fallon also said the police force works "tirelessly to bring those responsible for crimes to justice" regardless of race, residency or immigration status.
Sanchez, in his early 30s, was found dead in the woods from what was determined to be internal bleeding. A LatinoJustice attorney said Tum, 37, was badly hurt and left disabled in the same attack.
LatinoJustice was involved in calling for the previous federal probe following the 2008 killing of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue, an attack by a group of teens that was prosecuted as a hate crime and was seen by advocates as part of a pattern of assaults.
The activists said the lack of arrests in the cases of Sanchez and Tum, or even updates about the investigation, has revived their distrust of Suffolk police.
Advocates also want Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota to release Sanchez' autopsy results to his family. Spota's office did not comment.
Maryann Slutsky, executive director of the immigrant-advocacy group Long Island Wins, said the case's handling has planted seeds of doubt.