The surviving family of New Yorkers slain by members of the New York Police Department met with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week. Family members have called on the governor to implement police reform and re-established their opposition to an “independent monitor.”
Some of the individuals in attendance at the meeting in Albany included the family of Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, Kimani Gray and Anthony Rosario. In a joint statement, family members said the overall meeting was cordial, but they hoped to get their point across to the governor.
“We had a positive meeting with Governor Cuomo today, and he committed to continue working with us and meet with us again within a month,” read the statement. “Local district attorneys have a fundamental conflict of interest in holding police departments—in which they are interdependent on a daily basis—accountable to the law when they kill civilians—something President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing acknowledged in its recent report.
“Governor Cuomo pledged that he would issue an executive order to authorize the appointment of a special prosecutor in police killings if the state Legislature failed to act by the end of this session,” continued the statement. “We remain committed to demanding an executive order for a special prosecutor for all police killings, because establishing prosecution that is independent and external of local DAs is the only way to resolve the conflict of interest that has systemically failed to provide justice in these cases within our state and across the nation.”
While they were happy to meet with the governor, the meeting came as a result of constant pushing. On Feb. 28, family members of 18 people slain by NYPD officers sent a letter to Cuomo asking that he issue an executive order to establish a special prosecutor and request a meeting. A few cancellations of meetings with the governor resulted in disappointment until recently. The group sent out individual statements as well, pushing for a special prosecutor who would be independent of local district attorneys.
“The president’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing made recommendations that agree with our call for a special prosecutor,” said the mother of the late Amadou Diallo, Kadiatou. “Governor Cuomo can and should be a leader for the rest of the country by immediately signing an executive order to create a special prosecutor.”
“It’s a no-brainer,” said Natasha Duncan, the sister of Shantel Davis. “We can’t have the district attorneys and police working together and expect the system to be fair and impartial. It’s going on three years, and I still haven’t heard a thing about what the Brooklyn DA is doing for my sister’s case.”