A 28-year-old Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty last month to first-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting a Grenadian man during the Caribbean J’Ouvert celebration that was held in the wee hours before the 2014 West Indian Day Carnival Parade on Labor Day, the first Monday in September.
“This defendant has now been held accountable for a senseless shooting that took the life of a 55-year-old man who was a beloved father and grandfather,” said Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez on Friday.
“What should have been a joyous cultural celebration was marred by this tragic shooting,” he added. “Such violence, whether during J’Ouvert or anywhere else in Brooklyn, will not go unpunished.”
The acting district attorney identified the defendant as Derek Goodings, 28, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
Goodings was also sentenced on Friday to five years’ post release supervision by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice.
The defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter last month shortly after jury selection had commenced.
Gonzalez said that, according to the Goodings’ allocution, on Sept. 1, 2014, at about 3:30 am, in the vicinity of Empire Boulevard in Brooklyn, Goodings fired his weapon into a crowd of revelers and onlookers.
Gonzalez said Goodings fired five times, striking Michael Sampson, 55, in the chest, killing him and injuring another man.
He also fired at an unmarked police van in which a uniformed police officer was sitting, striking it, Gonzalez said.
He said Goodings fled the scene, and while he was being chased by police, turned his gun on an officer, who discharged his service weapon.
Shortly after the shooting, Sampson’s girlfriend of seven years told authorities that all her boyfriend wanted to do was enjoy the West Indian Parade, and that he was donning a special yellow and green shirt – the colors of his native Grenada – when he was shot and killed, according to the Brooklyn Reporter.
Over the years, police say the West Indian American celebration has been marred by violence.
On Sept. 14 last year, a reputed member of the Folk Nation gang pleaded not guilty to murdering the Jamaican-born legal aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was felled by a stray bullet during a wild shootout.
Kenny Bazile was the fourth suspect charged in the tragic killing of Carey Gabay, a Harvard-educated lawyer, who worked at the Empire State Development Corporation.
Bazile was nabbed in early January in California, where he had fled by train the day after the shooting, said Assistant Brooklyn District Attorney Emily Dean.
Trinidadian Yvette Rennie, president of J’ouvert City International, organizers of the Caribbean J’ouvert celebration, told reporters that she believes “there was a younger generation who didn’t understand the culture.
“They came from the parties and thought it was a free-for-all,” she said.