Violent Black suspect posing as nurse indicted for kidnapping and abuse of women

New York, New York – A Black man and alleged “serial predator” from New Jersey is accused of posing as a nurse to lure at least four women into “romantic relationships.” Using the internet, it’s then believed he would kidnap victims at knifepoint and physically abuse them across New York City.

According to a press release from the US Department of Justice, 30-year-old Herman Calvin Brightman of Central Islip was indicted by a grand jury last week on eight counts, including kidnapping, interstate travel to commit domestic violence, interstate communication of a threat, cyberstalking, and interstate stalking.

From January 2022 to September 2023, Brightman allegedly used the alias “Nazir Griffiths” or “Nazir Luckett” on social media platforms such as Facebook and the dating app Hinge to “meet, and occasionally date, several women under false pretenses” before becoming violent, mainly when the victims tried to end the relationship. Prosecutors say he “brutalized at least four such women.”

30-year-old Herman Calvin Brightman is accused of kidnapping, abusing, and stalking multiple women in New York City, posing as a nurse in online apps. Photo: Court TV

According to the indictment, Brightman—who is Black—would claim to be a nurse or nurse practitioner in NYC-area hospitals, sending photos and videos of himself wearing scrubs and lab coats, creating a LinkedIn page, and even generating false IDs for himself to reinforce the false profession and earn the trust of his victims.

The indictment summarized Brightman’s alleged crimes against his victims, which were alleged to have occurred over the span of 21 months:

“Specifically, after establishing a romantic relationship with each victim […] the defendant […] kidnapped, one of the victims and her minor child at knifepoint; bound and gagged a second victim while he threatened to kill her; punched and choked a third victim, then stalked her at her workplace to ensure she did not report the attack to the authorities; and held a fourth victim hostage in her apartment and repeatedly assaulted her until she escapes.”

As early as March 2022, Brightman was arrested and charged with aggravated harassment, second-degree criminal nuisance, third-degree criminal trespass, and criminal mischief, according to the Suffolk Arrest Report.

In July 2022, after repeatedly assaulting his first victim over a few months, Brightman allegedly kidnapped the woman and her 2-year-old child at knifepoint back to his New Jersey home after she tried ending their relationship. There, he threatened to kill the woman if she “made any problems,” allegedly holding onto her “for an entire evening to prevent her from escaping.” The woman eventually convinced Brightman to let her leave his home temporarily before escaping the following day and contacting the police.

More than a year later, in August 2023, the Brightman struck again, holding a Queens woman he had been dating at knifepoint at her home. It was there the U.S. Attorney’s office claims he bound her hands, attempted to tape her mouth, and threatened to “gut” her “like a fish.” After ending their relationship a week following the incident, Brightman called her more than 20 times over a 24-hour period and threatened her again.

The following month, Brightman traveled from New Jersey to the Bronx and lured another woman he was dating to his car before punching and putting her in a chokehold when she tried to escape. The victim managed to break free and call police. A few days later, he returned to the Bronx and confronted the woman at her job, asking if she had contacted the police before following her home and assaulting her once more.

Later that month, Brightman, just two weeks after he was freed without bail, traveled to the Bronx again and convinced his fourth victim, who had previously ended their relationship, to allow him into her home, where he assaulted and strangled her once inside. Court documents state the alleged serial abuser punched and choked the victim until she lost consciousness.

“Look at me. I have nothing to lose. My dad is dying. We don’t work together anymore,” Brightman chillingly told her as he strangled the victim, prosecutors claimed.

His violent tirade escalated into threats against her life. “Kneel down,” he allegedly ordered her. “You ever been beat before? This is a night you will never forget. You are not going to make it out alive tonight.” The victim escaped with the help of a friend who contacted the police.

The eight-count indictment means that Brightman faces up to 85 years in prison if convicted as charged, with a potential mandatory minimum of 20 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of kidnapping a minor alone.

“The men and women of the NYPD condemn these deeply disturbing and heinous acts allegedly committed by a serial predator. Across jurisdictional boundaries, we and our law enforcement partners take all accusations of abuse seriously and remain dedicated to ensuring justice for the victims,” the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) Edward A. Caban stated.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damien Williams concluded the press release and federal indictment: “Today’s charges put a stop to this abusive and violent behavior.  We thank and commend the courageous women who came forward to report Brightman.”

An October press release from Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz detailed the ongoing case against Brightman for the alleged crimes against his second victim in August:

“The defendant terrorized his girlfriend in her own home. Wielding a knife, he threatened to gut her; he threatened to kill her. She is fortunate to have escaped with her life. I urge women who may have been victimized by the defendant, or need safety planning services, or help in securing an order of protection or shelter placement to call our 24-hour domestic violence hotline.”

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz vowed a “softer policy” on criminal defendants in the immediate aftermath of her electoral victory in 2019. Photo: Dennis A. Clark

Katz’s remarks on the case contrast with her institutional approach to crime in the Queens area since the start of her tenure as DA in 2020. For example, among other stipulations outlined in the “Diversion and Alternative Sentencing Unit” formulated by Katz in 2021, there were fewer prosecutions of lower-level offenses by the DA to address “racial disparities and systemic injustice.”

The press release announcing the formulation of this bureau further revealed that in 2020, “the District Attorney declined to prosecute 26% of all violation arrests, a 15% increase in declinations from 2019.” Moreover, during the summer riots of 2020, DA Katz also declined to prosecute all arrests based solely on curfew violations and failure to socially distance or wear a mask during peaceful protests due to its disproportionate effects on “communities of color.”

At the same time, Katz announced the formation of a “dedicated” Hate Crimes Bureau within the Felony Trial Division to exclusively prevent, investigate, and “vigorously” prosecute hate crimes.

“The individual hate crime victim often suffers significant psychological harm on top of the economic or physical injury caused by the underlying criminal act. Additionally, members of the victim’s group, and other minority groups, can suffer secondary injury by becoming fearful and isolating from others,” Katz explained. “By aggressively addressing hate crimes, the DA’s office is making clear that hate crimes will not be tolerated, and the bureau will aggressively tackle these issues.”

Meanwhile, a local news outlet reported a spike in gun violence across sections of Queens that summer, with the number of shooting incidents increasing by more than 70% and murders increasing by 23% citywide. By the end of 2020, major index crimes, including auto theft, shootings, and burglaries, rose approximately 5% in Queens.

The Commissioner of the NYPD at the time, Dermot Shea, expressed frustration at this sudden burst of violent and unchecked crime, bluntly pointing out its determinants: “It’s bail reform. It’s COVID. It’s emptying out prisons. One of the most frustrating pieces right now, is a criminal justice system that just is not working and I’m calling on Albany to fix it. Fix it now. People are dying on the streets of New York City.”

A heat map of NYC shows instances of reported crime via the NYPD. Photo: Arcgis.com

According to a recent New York Post article, the number of stabbings and slashings has risen in New York City overall, with 4,493 knifings so far in 2023—a 6% increase from 2022 over the same period—and a 30% increase in arrests for cutting crimes.

The increase in knife attacks reached a breaking point earlier this month with a particularly horrific massacre in Queens.

Courtney Gordon, a 38-year-old “unhinged” Black man of the Bronx, stabbed four family members, including two children, to death in Far Rockaway, Queens. Gordon, who was arrested less than a year ago for domestic violence, then turned the knife on two police officers, slashing them before one was able to gun him down.

Isaac Ferguson, a resident since 2006 a block away from the crime scene, remarked that things were “getting the way it used to be,” a likely reference to the lingering effects of the crime epidemic that plagued New York City as a whole during the 1980s and 1990s before its steady decline into the early 2000s.

“Somehow, people are becoming increasingly ultra-violent,” Ferguson said. “People are murdering entire families! People are losing control and getting ultra-violent.”

Nationally, sex abuse and other violent outbursts launched against women by Black Americans continue to become an unfortunate norm. In May, a “sweet sixteen funeral” was planned for a White teenage girl who had been groomed, killed, and stuffed in a dumpster by a suspected Black sex offender. In August, a Black repeat offender was charged with abusing the corpse of a teenage White girl. An independent Justice Report investigation revealed he had a 309-page criminal history in Ohio State prisons.

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