D.A. Vance, Police Commissioner Shea Make Law Enforcement Announcement Regarding Homicide of Tessa Majors

February 15, 2020

Thank you, Commissioner. Good morning everybody, thank you for being here on a Saturday. Not present from my office right now but I believe may be coming are senior trial counsel Matthew Bogdanos and Elizabeth D’Antonio. Now as Commissioner Shea has laid out, this arrest is a major milestone on the path to justice for Tessa Majors. And our journey to reach that milestone today was not a sprint but rather a painstaking, deliberate, and meticulous search for the truth. Both our offices, the police and the Manhattan DA’s office, working in seamless collaboration, determined from day one that whatever the opposite of rush to judgement is, that is how this investigation would proceed.

We’ve reached a major milestone with this arrest and the filing of a criminal complaint, but we are not here today, of course, to celebrate that. The killing of 18-year-old Tessa Majors was a heartbreaking tragedy that brought unimaginable loss to her family and friends. And in different ways, it is a tragedy for the Barnard, Morningside Heights, and West Harlem schools and communities. A few minutes ago, our office charged the defendant, Rashaun Weaver, in criminal court with what is called a criminal court complaint. He’s been charged with two counts of murder in the second degree, with one count representing intentional murder and the other a felony murder– a murder caused in the course of a robbery. One count of robbery in the first degree, and three counts of robbery in the second degree.

Now, the factual allegations are laid out in detail to the criminal court complaint and Danny Frost our communications director will be happy to provide copies of those complaints to those of you who want them. But the allegations are really laid out in heartbreaking detail. The complaint paints a picture of the video evidence, the blood evidence, the smartphone evidence, the iCloud evidence, witness identification, and the defendant’s own statements that were rigorously collected and examined prior to this arrest and indictment. And it paints a gruesome picture of what this young woman endured in her final moments. As alleged, some of the last words she was known to have said was, “Help me, I’m being robbed.” At the defendant’s arraignment, a few minutes ago, our office requested remand on a basis of the defendant’s previous flight from authorities and Judge Jackson remanded the defendant and adjourned the case to the youth part, part 73, on February 19th for arraignment on the indictment. Our office also filed a certificate of affirmative grand jury action, which means that a grand jury has voted to indict the defendant.

We’re dealing with a 14-year-old and what I want to say as the district attorney, is that we will be very careful to safeguard all the rights that he has as we go forward with this case. We are committed, our office as I know the NYPD is, in fairness in all our cases, but also especially in those involving youth. So, I want New Yorkers to note that we are recommitting today to fairness in this case because only a fair process will result in true justice for Tessa Majors. 

We’re going to take some on-topic questions here in a moment, but I want first of all to say thank you to Commissioner Shea and to Chief Harrison and to the extraordinary detectives of the NYPD and the uniformed officers who worked so hard in this case. And for that seamless collaboration, which is our goal, and, in this case, I believe we’ve achieved. I want to thank Matt Bogdanos and ADA D’Antonio who have worked tirelessly on this case and have not had much sleep since December 11th of last year. And I want to say to the family of Tessa Majors, who have endured an unthinkable loss, thanking them for their grace and patience during this meticulous search for the truth. Thank you.