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Christie criticized for remarks on killing of former intern

Greg Nash
Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said on Friday that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-) is “vile” for using a speech earlier this week to talk about the violent death of one of Himes’s former interns.

Himes argued in a statement that Christie was politicizing the death of Kevin Sutherland to fit talking points on criminal justice reform, and that it was unethical of him to do so.

{mosads}“Kevin Sutherland was a friend of mine,” Himes said of the 24-year-old killed on July 4 in Washington, D.C. “To use Kevin’s death to score political points is vile.” 

Sutherland was stabbed to death on D.C.’s Metro system in what police have described as a botched robbery.

Christie referenced Sutherland’s death during a campaign speech on Thursday in Camden, N.J.

On Friday afternoon, Sutherland’s parents, Douglas and Terry Sutherland, issued a statement protesting Christie’s remarks.

“The fact that Gov. Chris Christie would invoke my son’s name in a politically motivated speech just three days after our family laid him to rest shows that he cares little about the grief my family is feeling,” the Sutherland family said in a statement to Hearst Connecticut Media.

The New Jersey governor and 2016 presidential candidate called for a “fresh approach” to drug addiction and fighting crime in his speech.

Christie went on to talk about how Sutherland was “a bright young man with a promising future — a former congressional intern. And now all his parents can do is mourn.

“Kevin was stabbed to death on that train — right in front of people — by a man who had been arrested two days earlier for violent robbery,” he added.

“The reason the killer was on the train?” Christie asked. “His charge got reduced to a misdemeanor — and he was released the day after being arrested.”

Christie went on to complain that liberals favored what he termed “lax criminal justice policies” in the name of compassion. 

“How much compassion did liberal policies show for the families of Kevin Sutherland and Kathryn Steinle?” he asked rhetorically, referring to the woman recently killed in San Francisco, allegedly by an illegal immigrant and felon.

But the remarks on Sutherland outraged Himes.

“By speaking about Kevin Sutherland and his family in this way, Christie has once again shown himself as nothing more than a pure opportunist with no sense of decency and a severely distorted idea of right and wrong,” Himes said.

He argued Friday that Christie’s use of his former intern’s story disqualifies him from consideration as a respectable politician.

“When he uses the memory of a beloved friend and son in such a grossly disrespectful way, it’s our duty to stop listening, move on to more serious topics and people and continue the work that Kevin believed in,” Himes said.

The Sutherland family asserted that Christie must have spent only a small amount of time learning about their son, saying that, had he taken a closer interest, “he would have found someone who would never exploit someone else’s tragedy to further his own ambitions.

“He would have found someone very different from himself.”

—Jesse Byrnes contributed. 

Tags Chris Christie Crime Jim Himes Kevin Sutherland

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