Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Robert Swann Sentenced To 25 years In Killing Of Parks JTP Co-Worker Outside Al Oerter Rec. Center

A jury at Queens Criminal Court found Robert Swann, 53, guilty of manslaughter in the killing of Ezra Black, 31, outside the Al Oerter Recreation Center on September 4th, 2012. (Photo by Ellis Kaplan)


Robert Swann, 53, was sentenced to 25 years for killing his co-worker Ezra Black, 31, outside the Al Oerter Recreation Center on September 4th, 2012.

Swann was found found guilty of manslaughter two weeks ago by a jury in Queens criminal Court. 

Mr. Swann and Mr.  Black were welfare workers employed by the Parks Department when Swann stabbed his co-worker to death in the chest during an altercation outside the recreation center 
near Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens.

The two welfare recipients were loading garbage that according to Local 983 reps they aren't even supposed to be doing - when they got into an argument over garbage bags according to park sources.  Swann made several threats about killing him prior to the incident sources said. 

They had been bickering for days. 

Swann a grabbed a knife with a wooden handle from a cafeteria and went outside stabbed  him. He calmly left the scene and disappeared into Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Park employees at the scene did not call 911 to say a suspect was loose or give a description of the assailant according to a source at the scene.  

"They wanted to keep it quiet," the source said.

Instead the Al Oerter Recreation Center manager went looking for police in the park but could not find any. 

He found PEP officers Ralph Baselice and Sgt. Charles St. Louis inside the PEP headquarters in the Passerelle building who jumped into his car and began driving around the park looking for him.

Officer Baseline broadcasted a description of the suspect over a police radio they had because of the U.S. Open detail. 

While driving around the park an observant St. Louis spotted Swann - who had disposed of his parks uniform - not far from the Unisphere walking towards exit of the park.

The stabbing victim Ezra Black was taken to New York Hospital Queens, where he later died.

"I don't understand why this was allowed to get to this point,"  a parks worker familiar with the situation said at the time. 

"The manager should have dealt with it before it came to this. Everyone knew these guys were fighting."

Concerns have once again been raised over the lack of background checks, especially for people with violent criminal histories for parks workers enrolled in the welfare-to-work program. 

Black reportedly has more than two dozen prior arrests that include assault,  menacing and criminal use of a firearm.

A parks spokesperson defended hiring people with criminal histories.

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - September 30, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - September 5, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft

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