Jumaane Williams, Victims of Cop Shootings, And Other Officials Escalate Demands For Special Prosecutor

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Jumaane Williams

Members of Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, Progressive Caucus to urge that New York implement recommendation of Obama task force, families of police shooting victims.

WHAT: Press conference to call for Gov. Cuomo to issue executive order authorizing the assignment of a special prosecutor for police killings.

WHEN: Thursday, March 12 at 2 PM.

WHERE: Steps of City Hall, Lower Manhattan.

WHO: Council Member Jumaane Williams, Deputy Leader of the New York City Council

Council Member Andy King, co-chair of NYC Council Black, Latino & Asian Caucus

Council Member Rosie Mendez, co-chair of NYC Council Black, Latino & Asian Caucus

Council Member Antonio Reynoso, co-chair of NYC Council Progressive Caucus

Council Member Donovan Richards, co-chair of NYC Council Progressive Caucus

Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez (killed by a NYPD officer in 1994)

Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah (killed by a NYPD officer in 2012)

Community members.

WHY: 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. President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing acknowledged the inadequacy of maintaining this status quo by recommending the use of prosecutors who are independent and external of local district attorneys.

In New York State, these tragedies and subsequent injustices are all too familiar, spanning decades. In the dozens of cases where police killed unarmed New Yorkers throughout the state over the past decades, the vast majority have resulted in either no attempt for an indictment, failed indictments or failed prosecutions by the local criminal justice system. In New York City, which makes up the majority of these cases, there have been only three indictments and one conviction of an officer for unjustly killing a civilian – that officer was sentenced to no jail time. The surviving family members of 18 of these New Yorkers killed by the police recently wrote to Governor Cuomo urging that he issue an executive order to authorize the assignment of a special prosecutor.This criminal justice system failure is systemic, and reform should not be deferred because of any limited or recent exceptions.

Governor Cuomo has proposed appointing an “independent monitor” to review grand juries and who could recommend the appointment of a special prosecutor based on their review. This fails to address the core issue of independent prosecution that is external of local district attorneys, which the president’s task force indicated as critical to achieve real reform. 

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