https://nypost.com/2022/11/03/police-chief-calls-on-kathy-hochul-to-fix-bail-law-after-keaira-bennefield-slay/

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY — An upstate police chief publicly pleaded with Gov. Kathy Hochul to “show us some support in law enforcement” Thursday by toughening New York’s bail law in the wake of Buffalo mom Keaira Bennefield’s shocking murder.

“My message to the governor would be: Please, show us some support in law enforcement,” Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould told The Post in the suburb of Hochul’s hometown of Buffalo.

“I’ve met the governor. She’s from western New York. I’ve spoken with her staff,” he said.

“Help us by allowing judges to consider someone’s dangerousness when they make a determination whether someone should be released or should be held in custody.”

Unlike every other state in the nation and the federal court system, New York does not allow judges to lock up defendants based on their perceived danger to the community.

The state’s controversial 2019 bail reform law also mandates that most people charged with misdemeanors or nonviolent felonies get sprung without posting any cash bail or a bond.

“In New York State we just have to wait for somebody to do something bad enough, even if all the signs are there, we have to wait until they do something before we can hold people responsible,” the chief lamented.

“I have studied criminal justice and I understand the idea of innocent until proven guilty, but at some point discretion and gut feelings are what keeps people safe. In this case, the criminal justice system was handcuffed by the laws of New York state.”

Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould begged Gov. Kathy Hochul for “support” after the shocking murder of Buffalo mother Keaira Bennefield.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Gould’s department investigated the Sept. 28 assault on Keaira Bennefield, 30, allegedly committed by her estranged husband, ex-con Adam Bennefield, 45.

The vicious beating was recorded by surveillance cameras in the home and she later described the incident to authorities in chilling detail.

“I was screaming for help the whole time. Adam told me to ‘shut the f—k up’ and that he was going to kill me,” she said, according to a police report.

Gould said that the criminal justice system is
Gould said that the criminal justice system is “handcuffed” by New York’s laws.
Cheektowaga Police Department

“I thought I was going to die.”

Gould called the recordings — which Keaira Bennefield posted on Facebook — “horrific and terrifying” and said he was “personally a bit shocked that [she] didn’t have any serious injuries from the assault because the video was very violent.”

But because Keaira only suffered minor injuries, Adam Bennefield was charged with mere misdemeanors following his Oct. 4 arrest, and Cheektowaga Town Justice James Speyer Jr., formerly the town’s assistant police chief, was forced to release him without bail.

The next morning, Adam Bennefield allegedly crashed his car into Keaira Bennefield’s as she drove her three kids to school.

Adam Bennefield — who was paroled in 2015 after serving nearly 15 years in prison in the gunpoint abduction of another ex — then allegedly opened fire with a shotgun, killing her and splattering the horrified children with her blood.

“Everybody in my agency understood how dangerous Mr. Bennefield was,” Gould said.

“I even had a chance to speak to the judge afterward, and he understood. He made it clear that my officers and detectives and the [domestic violence] advocate did everything they could.

“He was just handcuffed by the rules when it comes to holding somebody in custody or not,” Gould added.

Keaira Bennefield was allegedly murdered by her estranged husband Adams Bennefield last month.
Keaira Bennefield was allegedly murdered by her estranged husband Adams Bennefield last month.
Facebook/Kearia Hudson
Adam Bennefield was released without bail for a previous assault on his wife days before the murder.
Adam Bennefield was released without bail for a previous assault on his wife days before the murder.
Buffalo Police Department

Adam Bennefield is now being held without bail on one count of second-degree murder and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, in addition to the charges in the earlier attack.

“The community expects police to keep them safe, and we’re doing everything in our power,” he said. “But, frustratingly, in New York state our judges are not trusted to make decisions based upon a person’s level of dangerousness.

“And that’s one of the No. 1 things that we’re lobbying for as police chiefs in New York state.”

Video posted of Adam Bennefield beating Keaira on September 28, 2022.
Video posted of Adam Bennefield beating Keaira on September 28, 2022.
Facebook/Kearia Hudson

Gould added: “If anybody really cares about our community and wants to see firsthand how it’s affecting us as law enforcement, they won’t have to look too hard.”

Gould’s remarks echoed those made to The Post a day earlier by NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell after being asked if Hochul should go further to let judges lock up dangerous defendants.

“From the very beginning, we have asked for changes to the bail reform law,” Sewell said.

NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell has also asked for changes to the bail reform law.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell has also asked for changes to the bail reform law.
J. Messerschmidt/NY Post

“We ask for judges to be able to consider whether the person is a public safety threat before deciding whether to remand, release or set bail.”

Mayor Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain, has also lobbied lawmakers to strengthen the bail law and in July asked Hochul to call a special session of the state Legislature to reconsider the rules covering repeat offenders.

But Hochul rejected that request and instead put off any efforts to address bail reform until after the Legislature reconvenes in January — pushing the issue off until after Election Day.

By contrast, the Democratic incumbent’s challenger, outgoing US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island) has pledged to immediately declare a crime emergency and suspend bail reform if elected.

Hochul’s campaign declined to comment Thursday and a gubernatorial spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry.

Additional reporting by Zach Williams

You Might Like
Learn more about RevenueStripe...