By Julie Shapiro
EAST VILLAGE — Just a few days after a jury found two police officers accused of raping an East Village woman not guilty, flyers posted around the neighborhood question its decision.
The stark black-and-white flyers bear the text "NYPD RAPISTS," framing the faces of Kenneth Moreno, 43, and Franklin Mata, 29, the cops who were acquitted of taking advantage of a drunk woman they were called to help.
"This is good," said Hamlet Zurita, 56, who has been living in the East Village for over 35 years and paused approvingly near a set of the flyers on East 1st Street.
"People should be aware, women especially, of the double standard in terms of policemen. [The verdict] sent a big notice to all the people: The police can get away with anything."
But lawyers for the men pointed out that they were exonerated by a jury.
Edward Mandery, Mata's lawyer, said Monday that he was "saddened" to hear about the flyers.
"Franklin Mata had maintained his innocence from day one and went to trial for that very reason," Mandery said in an e-mail.
"As such, those posters are a slap in the face to: (1) the earnest jurors who dedicated two months of their lives hearing, evaluating, and ultimately rejecting the purported evidence of a rape; (2) our criminal justice system; and, (3) to Franklin Mata and Kenneth Moreno who are not rapists and were acquitted of that exact allegation."
During the trial, Moreno admitted to lying about his whereabouts so he could cuddle with the drunk 29-year-old woman in her apartment, but he disputed her account of the alleged rape and said they did not have sex.
The jury members agreed. Last Thursday, they found Moreno and Mata, the alleged lookout, not guilty of all charges except official misconduct. The decision sparked an immediate backlash, including protests from politicians and victims' advocates.
The East Village flyers, which were first reported by the blog EV Grieve, appear to be another form of protest. They were posted over the weekend on buildings and phone booths on Second Avenue and the Bowery, though some have been torn down since then.
Yvonne Thomas, 49, an East Village resident, said she wasn't sure if she liked the posters, but she appreciated the sentiment behind them.
"If you can't do it through the justice system, you can do it on the streets, grassroots," said Thomas, who followed the case closely with high school students she teaches in the Bronx.
"It's an atrocity, what happened," continued Thomas, who said she was "appalled" by the verdict. "I understand why somebody would want to [put up the posters]."
Joseph Tacopina, Moreno's lawyer, responded to the posters with an e-mail to DNAinfo on Monday: "I guess the people who [put] them up hadn't heard about the verdict," he said.
Moreno and Mata are scheduled to be sentenced on the official misconduct charges June 28.