A sense of what took place was provided by a federal investigation completed in 2010 by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Manslaughter and criminal negligence statutes vary from state to state and provide for varying types of culpability.

We understand that the prosecutors are free to prosecute some of the parties, but not others, involved in the colossal errors and bad judgment that turned the Deutsche bank building into a firetrap and delayed notification that there was a fire. New York City has acknowledged its failures in inspecting the building.

Because prosecutors brought charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in this case, New York may develop a more consistent safety culture.

The injustice is that these prosecutions concentrate the weight of the tragedy on the heads of these three men when what they did was play a role in a complicated sequence. They were not careful about fire safety in the building, but that’s not the same as manslaughter. Decency demands that we not wrongly charge and convict individuals to accomplish reforms.

If the link between what the defendants had done followed a cleaner, straighter line to the deaths of Graffagnino and Beddia, we could say these charges are just. But they don’t—and all three should be acquitted.