TRIBECA — The terrorist truck driver accused of ruthlessly running down eight people in the worst attack in New York City since 9/11 should not be sentenced to die but instead "rot in prison," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday, hours after the President Trump called for capital punishment in the case.
“I’m not someone who believes in the death penalty in general,” the mayor said at a news conference outside Stuyvesant High School Thursday. “I believe this is an individual who should rot in prison the rest of his life.”
Presidents are usually told not to opine on open criminal cases, which can lead defense lawyers to argue that their clients cannot receive fair trials, the New York Times reported.
Sayfullo Saipov, 29, faces the death penalty for the Tuesday attack in a TriBeCa bike path that also left a dozen people inured.
Saipov rented a Home Depot truck in New Jersey, then sped down the path along the West Side Highway, intentionally mowing down pedestrians over a 20-block stretch, federal prosecutors said.
He left behind a handwritten note expressing support for the Islamic State, and his cellphone contained about 90 videos and 3,800 pictures, many of which were "ISIS-related propaganda," officials said.
At Bellevue Hospital, where Saipov was being treated after getting shot by a police officer, he asked if he could hang an ISIS flag in his room, prosecutors said.
United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking in lower Manhattan Thursday, reiterated President Trump's pledge to make national security the administration's top priority and called for expanded surveillance capacities to ensure safety.
"We need to keep potentially dangerous people from getting into this country," he said. "Second, we need access to electronic evidence with court approval. And third, we need to lawfully, aggressively surveil non-citizen terrorists overseas.”