New York City Sued by Mother Whose Son Was Stabbed to Death in Public Housing

Prince Joshua Avitto, 6, was stabbed to death inside the elevator in his Brooklyn apartment building on Sunday.
Prince Joshua Avitto, 6, was stabbed to death inside the elevator in his Brooklyn apartment building on Sunday.

The mother of a 6-year-old who was stabbed to death in a public housing complex elevator sued the city Thursday, saying officials let blatant security risks linger before the attack on her son and a 7-year-old friend.

A broken front door wasn’t fixed despite complaints, surveillance cameras weren’t installed although there was money to do so and officials let a volunteer tenant patrol lapse in an area with a history of crime, Prince Joshua “P.J.” Avitto’s mother said in the lawsuit.

“It’s as if (the residents) are forgotten people,” said Jack Yankowitz, the attorney representing the boy’s mother, Aricka McClinton. Her Brooklyn state court lawsuit seeks unspecified damages; a first-step legal document filed last summer sought $281 million.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, who attended Prince’s wake, called his death tragic and said the city would review the suit’s allegations. The New York City Housing Authority declined to comment.

Prince and his friend, Mikayla Capers, were attacked in a building at the Boulevard Houses complex in Brooklyn in June. Mikayla was critically wounded but survived.

De Blasio, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson, a relative of Prince’s, were among the roughly 1,000 mourners at his wake, where the altar flowers included a Superman-themed bouquet.

There were no surveillance cameras in position to capture images of his attacker. But days later, police said forensic evidence led them to arrest Daniel St. Hubert, who had been released from prison only weeks before after serving a five-year sentence for choking his mother with an electrical cord and stealing her car.

St. Hubert, 28, has pleaded not guilty in the seemingly random steak-knife stabbings. He has a history of mental problems but has been found fit to stand trial.

The slaying spotlighted a lack of surveillance cameras in many of NYCHA’s over 2,500 buildings, with de Blasio blasting “unacceptable bureaucracy” at a housing agency that had had funds to pay for cameras.

Ten days after Prince’s death, the agency began installing cameras in the Boulevard Houses and some other complexes, ultimately adding them in 49 developments last year. Some 29 NYCHA developments are due to get cameras and other security enhancements by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Prince’s mother has moved to a different public housing complex, Yankowitz said.


Reach Jennifer Peltz on Twitter @ jennpeltz.

Associated Press

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