NEW YORK—Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released the following statement June 23, on Governor Cuomo’s announcement that he would appoint the Attorney General’s office to investigate deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of the police:
“In December, I requested that the Governor sign an Executive Order to empower my office to investigate deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of police. This order was to remain in effect only until the Governor and the Legislature enacted statutory reforms to address this critical issue in a permanent and considered fashion. I am disappointed that, six months later, we did not see such statutory action — part of a broader failure to achieve meaningful reform on a range of issues in this legislative session. The Governor announced today that, as he was unable to enact statutory reform, he is issuing such an executive order. My office will handle these cases with the highest level of care and independence, while we continue to work with lawmakers, District Attorneys, advocates and other experts in criminal justice reform on a long-term legislative solution to this critical matter of law and policy. All of us who care about the great State of New York must redouble our efforts to strengthen the ties between communities and the police officers and prosecutors who devote themselves so honorably to public protection.”
Governor Cuomo announced an executive order for a Special Prosecutor that would give New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the power to prosecute police killings. BUT he appears to be backtracking on the details, breaking the commitment he made to the families of New Yorkers who lost loved ones to police violence and endangering the effectiveness a Special Prosecutor would have in investigating and prosecuting cases.
His latest statements allude to dangerous loopholes that would authorize a special prosecutor for only one year and would fail to cover all cases where civilians are killed by the police or die in police custody. These loopholes are bad public policy. If President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing – that included police commissioners and law enforcement experts – did not include loopholes in their recommendation for independent prosecutors in police killings, neither should Governor Cuomo’s executive order.
Joo-Hyun, Priscilla, Mandela and Manny on behalf of the Communities United for Police Reform team sent out the following statement:
Governor Cuomo should close these loopholes and ensure justice for those who lose their lives at the hands of law enforcement and establish real accountability for deadly police misconduct in the state of New York.
Tell Governor Cuomo to keep his commitment to the families of New Yorkers killed by police and sign the RIGHT executive order for a Special Prosecutor to investigate ALL cases of police-involved killings of civilians without a one year time limit!
Eric Garner — Ramarley Graham — Sean Bell — Anthony Baez — Alberta Spruill — and too many other NYers killed by police
You have chanted their names in the streets, denouncing the police violence and brutality that unjustly took their lives. You have listened to their mothers, fathers, children and family members demand justice after the system failed time and again to hold the police officers responsible for their deaths accountable.
Damon K. Jones, the New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, whose organization is the only law enforcement organization in New York to make specific recommendations to improve oversight of law enforcement spoke on the People Before Politics Radio Show saying;
“The signing of this executive order is symbolism without any substance. The Attorney General already has the powers to do so according to his own website. The question should be, where the hell has the Attorney General been with all the shootings of black men under his watch? It’s unfortunate that elected officials would take advantage of the ignorance of victims families of what the job of the Attorney General actually entails.”
Well will keep you informed in this developing story!