During the turbulent 1980s and early 1990s, when murder, mayhem and drugs plagued the inner cities, scores of self-made gangsters vied for control of certain neighborhoods. In Brooklyn, Fort Greene and Lafayette Gardens were atop the list that harbored some of the most infamous characters. While Killer Ben and 50 Cent found infamy in Fort Greene, Lafayette Gardens was dubbed “Bush Gardens” because of the way Derrick “Bush” Hamilton, along with his brother J.R., were rumored to have controlled a large percent of the illicit activities in that particular neighborhood.
Almost simultaneously, Brooklyn North Homicide Squad developed a roving 40-man task force to quell Brooklyn’s murder epidemic. Of all the detectives, Louis Scarcella was most famous for solving murders.
In 1983, Hamilton was jailed for an assortment of violent crimes, such as manslaughter, weapon possession and robbery. During his time in an Elmira prison, Hamilton, a self-taught jailhouse lawyer, helped other convicted killers receive time cuts and reversals. He, too, was back in Lafayette Gardens in less than a decade.
In 1987, 50 Cent was immortalized when Julio “Wemo” Acevedo gunned him down in a dusky hallway located in Albany projects. Acevedo was subsequently arrested, convicted and shipped to an upstate prison.
In 1991, a Brooklyn man named Nathaniel Cash was murdered. Hamilton’s name came up in the investigation. Scarcella didn’t have the patience and wherewithal for justice. He believed that he was above the law. He arrested Hamilton post haste. After a lengthy trial, Hamilton was once again convicted and sentenced to decades of confinement.
Hamilton wasn’t worried. This wasn’t his first rodeo. In fact, he and fellow Brooklynite Acevedo ended up in the same prison. After exchanging penitentiary pleasantries, Hamilton told Acevedo that he knew of some legal discrepancies in his case and vowed to free him. True to his word, Hamilton had Acevedo back on the street before the turn of the century.
In 2000, while Hamilton was still in jail, his brother J.R. was murdered inside of his seafood restaurant. According to a federal indictment, Damion “World” Hardy, another Lafayette Garden resident, was responsible for ordering that particular hit. Word on the street was Hamilton, while incarcerated, had convinced a paroled lackey to kill Hardy. Although he sustained a head wound, Hardy survived the shooting.
Coincidentally, Scarcella also lost a brother, Michael, a cop who committed suicide as he depressingly witnessed his brother’s tainted career unravel and capsize.
In 2011, Hamilton’s legal prowess, coupled with Scarcella’s faulty and shoddy police work secured his premature release from prison. In 2013, Acevedo plows through a crowded Brooklyn street while driving drunk and crashes into a taxi, causing the untimely deaths of an Hasidic couple and their newborn baby.
As of 2015, Hamilton has been fully exonerated of murder and has a $100 million lawsuit against the city for unlawful imprisonment. He was the recipient of several thousand dollars of reward money for orchestrating Acevedo’s surrender, possibly used to aid his defense. Now, as a paralegal, he has been instrumental in the perpetual ruining of Scarcella’s reputation by assuring that most of Scarcella’s victims are vindicated.
Acevedo was convicted and sentenced to 25 to life. He was represented by Hamilton’s attorney, Scott Brettschneider.
Scarcella, meanwhile, is embattled, disgraced and on the verge of costing the city billions of dollars in lawsuits after the reexaminations of hundreds of sketchy convictions.
Saint Solomon is an author and essayist, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.