UPDATE: Today, July 7, 2015 Governor Andrew Cuomo by executive order designates NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as a Special Prosecutor in cases of unarmed civilian deaths at the hands of a police officer.
New York City council members, the surviving family members of New Yorkers killed by police, and community members called for Governor Cuomo to drop his proposal to appoint a “monitor” and instead immediately issue an executive order for a special prosecutor in killings by police. The Progressive Caucus sent a letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to take immediate action on the special prosecutor.
Across the country, the recent police killings of unarmed people of color – primarily Black and Latino – at the hands of police have not only brought scrutiny on police use of force but also on the failure of the justice system to subject officers to legal consequences. National experts have recognized that local district attorneys – who collaborate with and depend upon police departments on a daily basis – have a systemic conflict-of-interest which is an overwhelming impediment to justice in these cases. Full Release
WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:
“Given the high death rates of unarmed civilians at the hands of law enforcement agents in New York, I strongly advise Governor Cuomo to address this problem by granting the authority to act as a Special Prosecutor, in such cases, to the Attorney General,” said Council Member Donovan Richards, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus. “As legislators we have a moral obligation to protect the lives of all New Yorkers with absolutely no exceptions. Let us fulfill this obligation by creating an independent prosecutor through an executive order and prevent the further loss of life at the hands of police for current and subsequent generations.”
“Our current system — with local district attorneys prosecuting their colleagues in the local police department — denies justice to victims of police killings. We owe them a fair trial and an unbiased prosecutor. I hope Governor Cuomo will hear the outcry of the public and the nation and ensure that the Office of the Attorney General acts as Special Prosecutor for all cases of civilian killings by police officer,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.
“No one – including police officers – should be above the law. But it is clear that the criminal justice system in its current form is not equipped to handle cases in which civilians are killed by police officers,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres. “In order to ensure police accountability, New York needs a Special Prosecutor that can conduct truly independent investigations.”
“We are dealing with an antiquated justice system where grand jury decisions are hidden behind closed doors and clouded with half-truths and bias,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “We will continue to fail those we have sworn to protect until our court system is impartial and only acts within the highest levels of integrity. We call upon Governor Cuomo to bring fairness back into the courts by appointing special prosecutors without vested interests and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”
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