A group of New Yorkers who share an unfortunate bond want New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make sure justice is served in cases involving deadly use of police force.
Twenty surviving family members of New Yorkers who were shot and killed by police in the past two decades announced a new campaign urging the governor to enact an executive order so he can assign a special prosecutor to all cases of police force that results in death. The group believes that a special prosecutor would better address conflicts of interest and inadequacies that occur when attorneys are called to prosecute officers.
In a letter to the governor, the family members called the system “broken,” and they want Cuomo to meet with them about the issue.
“Losing a child, sibling or spouse to police violence is horrific,” reads the letter. “The loss is compounded when the criminal justice system fails to provide any justice or accountability for those responsible for the deaths of New Yorkers. A special prosecutor would have helped our families and can help countless families in the future. New Yorkers have looked to district attorneys to investigate and charge the officers who took the lives of their loved ones for decades. In all of our cases, the district attorneys failed to deliver any justice or accountability … even in cases for which there is video evidence.”
Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham, talked about how the judicial system hurts her community.
“NYPD officers unlawfully entered our home and shot and killed my son in cold blood in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother, yet none of them have been held accountable,” said Malcolm in a statement. “A Bronx judge threw the original indictment out based on a technicality. This failure to hold officers who kill our children accountable sends the message that cops can continue brutalizing our communities.”
“The police and the justice system work too closely together and continually fail to hold officers accountable when they kill or brutalize our loved ones,” said Sean Bell’s mother, Valerie Bell, in a statement. “Even though my son was killed in a hail of 50 bullets and there was an indictment, there was no conviction.”
The mothers of both Amadou Diallo and Anthony Baez, whose sons were shot and killed by police in the 1990s, also issued statements on the concept of a special prosecutor for police-involved killings.
“For far too long and for so many of our families, the justice system and the Police Department have failed to hold officers accountable when they kill or brutalize our loved ones,” said Kadiatou Diallo in a statement. “We believe that special prosecutor for police brutality cases will help restore trust between the communities and law enforcement.”
“A special prosecutor is long overdue,” stated Iris Baez. “The governor should enact an executive order now.”
Back in December, soon-to-be New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requested that Cuomo issue an immediate executive order directing the attorney general’s office to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute cases involving unarmed civilians killed by police officers.
“Police-community relations cannot improve until officers who brutalize and kill New Yorkers are held accountable,” said Loyda Colon, co-director of the Justice Committee, in a statement. “We appreciate that Governor Cuomo wishes to address the historical and systemic lack of police accountability. This is why we are calling on him to issue an executive order to assign a special prosecutor to all cases of police use of deadly force moving forward.”