BROOKLYN — Justice delayed is justice denied, according to advocates urging police to move ahead with charges in the death of Tanaya Copeland, an 18-year-old nursing student who was fatally stabbed in May.
Police have said publicly that they believe Copeland, whose body was found with multiple stab wounds on an East New York Street late on May 30, may have been the first victim of a violent spree by ex-con Daniel St. Hubert. He was arrested after police say he stabbed 6-year-old Prince Joshua "P.J." Avitto to death and critically injured 7-year-old Mikayla Capers, just days after Copeland's death and not far from where her body was found.
But although Hubert, who has a history of mental problems, has been indicted on murder charges in Avitto's death, police and prosecutors have yet to charge him — or anyone — in Copeland's death.
Now Copeland's friends and family are circulating a petition in hopes of pressuring the NYPD to do more to solve her murder.
"We were dissatisfied [with the police investigation] from the beginning, but we didn’t strongly put that out there," said activist Ty Black, who has collected 119 signatures in about two days on her petition, "Justice for Tanaya Copeland (NYPD do your job!)"
"It's been over a month and NYPD is dragging their feet on working this case," the petition reads.
Black, whose younger brother and sister were in the Royal Knights marching band with Copeland for eight years, said her goal is to reach 1,000 signatures on the petition.
"I know that we can get it," she said.
Once she collects the signatures, Black said she plans to stage a rally or similar event to further pressure the NYPD into moving ahead with the case.
The NYPD is investigating the incident, police said.
The Brooklyn District Attorney's office is working with police "to bring the perpetrator of this horrific crime to justice," Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said in a statement.
Black recently helped organize the creation of a 25-foot-wide mural at Linden Boulevard and Cleveland Street to honor Copeland and make sure she is not forgotten.
Copeland's funeral was very well attended, said Black, so she is not worried about finding enough people to reach her goal of collecting 1,000 signatures for the petition.
"It's just about connecting with those people and making sure they sign it," she said.