Justice Advocates To Mayor Adams: Fire NYPD Brass Involved In Misconduct In Eric Garner Case

NYPD officers and officials who engaged in misconduct related to the killing of Eric Garner.
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New York, NY –This week, Communities United for Police Reform, the Justice Committee, and the family of Eric Garner responded to the news that Deputy Commissioner Joseph Reznick was asked to leave the NYPD and are calling for the firing of former Deputy Commissioner Kevin Richardson, NYPD Officer Justin Damico, Lt. Christopher “Not a Big Deal” Bannon, and all the NYPD officers and officials who engaged in misconduct related to the killing of Eric Garner.

“Deputy Commissioner Reznick’s reported departure from his current position at IAB is long overdue and he shouldn’t be allowed to continue to collect his pension or benefits or take another job within the NYPD,” said Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner. “After the NYPD murdered my son, Reznick failed to investigate the illegal leaks of Eric’s personal information and didn’t fully investigate the illegal stop that led to officers killing Eric. Deputy Commissioner Reznick had the audacity to apologize to me during the judicial inquiry last year—he could have done that any time in the past seven and half years but never did.

"I don’t need apologies, I needed Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD to hold him accountable, fire him, and make sure no other family goes through what mine did. I ask Mayor Eric Adams to do what the de Blasio Administration failed to do and in addition to firing Reznick, he must fire former Deputy Commissioner Richardson, and all the officers and officials who engaged in misconduct related to my son’s killing.”

Last year, during a historic, once-in-a-century judicial inquiry investigating the 2014 NYPD killing of Eric Garner, Deputy Commissioner Reznick revealed that the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau did not investigate the leaks of Eric Garner’s medical or sealed criminal legal record and he confirmed that the IAB did not investigate other officer misconduct after it was made public during the administrative trial of Daniel Pantaleo in 2019.

“Mayor Eric Adams has said numerous times since he took office that he’s about public safety and justice, this is a perfect opportunity to prove he’s serious about holding the NYPD accountable,” said Loyda Colon, Executive Director of the Justice Committee and spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform. “Mayor de Blasio took five years to fire one officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who killed Eric Garner using a banned chokehold. Deputy Commissioner Reznick, former Deputy Commissioner Richardson, and officers like Justin Damico and Lt. Christopher ‘Not a Big Deal’ Bannon are all responsible for misconduct related to Eric Garner’s killing and the cover up that followed. Still, officers and officials who ignored and tried to cover up misconduct remain on the force. Mayor Adams has the opportunity to do what de Blasio never could, hold the NYPD accountable for the killing of Eric Garner, and fire former Deputy Commissioner Richardson, and all the officers responsible for misconduct.”

Former Deputy Commissioner Kevin Richardson who ran the NYPD Department Advocate’s Office at the time of Eric Garner’s killing, failed to discipline officers for the illegal stop of Eric Garner that led to his killing and other misconduct by officers.

“Deputy Commissioner Reznick allowed the investigation of Eric Garner’s killing to overlook grave misconduct by officers like Justin Damico who filed false felony charges against Eric Garner after he was already dead, and Lt. Christopher Bannon who texted it was “not a big deal” that Eric Garner might be dead on arrival,” said Monifa Bandele of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and a petitioner in the judicial inquiry into Eric Garner’s killing. “While we would certainly be happy to see Reznick go—an NYPD official who collects two paychecks from taxpayer dollars—his misconduct must not be rewarded with his full pension and benefits. Mayor Adams must use this opportunity not only to fire Reznick, but to fire all other NYPD officials like Kevin Richardson, and officers like Damico, Lt. Bannon, Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, Sgt. Saminath, Officers Meems, Ramos and others who engaged in misconduct related to Eric Garner’s killing and have yet to be held accountable.”

Background:

On August 27, 2019, Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Ellisha Flagg-Garner, sister of Eric Garner; Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham; Loyda Colon of Justice Committee; Joo-Hyun Kang of Communities United for Police Reform; Monifa Bandele of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Mark Winston Griffith of Brooklyn Movement Center; and Kesi Foster of Make the Road New York, filed a historic petition regarding violations and neglect of duty by the Mayor of New York City, the NYPD Police Commissioner, and other New York City officials related to the killing of Eric Garner. The petition was brought under Section 1109 of the New York City Charter, a “sunlight” provision. The lawyers for the petitioners include Alvin Bragg of the New York Law School Racial Justice Project, the Law Offices of Gideon Oliver, and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.

After the City moved to dismiss the lawsuit, Justice Joan A. Madden issued a decision on September 24, 2020, allowing a judicial inquiry to move forward with respect to alleged violations and neglect of duty in connection with: (1) the stop, arrest, and use of force against Mr. Garner; (2) the filing of false official documents concerning Mr. Garner’s arrest; (3) the leaking of Mr. Garner’s alleged arrest history and medical condition in the autopsy report; and (4) the alleged lack of medical care provided to Mr. Garner by police officers. The judicial inquiry also was meant to examine violations and neglect of duties related to the discipline, or lack thereof, for the officers, in relation to the categories above.

The City tried to block the petition by filing a notice of appeal and by attempting to argue that there was an automatic stay to all further proceedings before the Supreme Court while the City’s appeal was pending, which was rejected, and a court denied the appeal on July 15, 2021.

The judicial inquiry began in New York State Supreme Court on October 25 and lasted for approximately two weeks, until November 5, 2021. Deputy Commissioner Joseph Reznick was compelled to testify, along with Officer Justin Damico, Lt. Christopher Bannon, Officers William Meems, Mark Ramos, Craig Furlani, Sgt. Dhanan Saminath, Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, Captain Bekim Kalicovic, Lt. Luke Gasquez, Deputy Inspector Charles Barton, and Deputy Commissioner Steven Davis.

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