New York’s district attorneys are too close to the cops to investigate police killings of unarmed civilians, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday, provoking an instant reaction from Brooklyn D.A. Ken Thompson.
“We have to recognize the loss of confidence in the process, and the urgent need to restore confidence so the people of the City of New York have faith in … the men and women of the NYPD who serve and protect them everyday,” Schneiderman said Monday morning, flanked by more than 20 city and state elected officials.
Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson said he was “adamantly opposed” to Schneiderman’s plan.
“Local prosecutors who are elected to enforce the laws in those communities should not be robbed of their ability to faithfully and fairly do so in cases where police officers shoot, kill or injure someone unjustly,” Thompson said in a statement.
Schneiderman sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday asking him short-circuit the legislature and issue an executive order allowing Schneiderman, not local prosecutors, to investigate police-involved killings.
“We cannot afford to wait until the legislature returns to Albany, conducts its debates and passes a bill,” Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman’s plan would apply only to future cases, and would not include the cases of Eric Garner and Akai Gurley, an unarmed man who was shot in East New York last month by a police officer patrolling a dark stairwell.
Bratton said Sunday the NYPD’s internal investigation on Garner’s death has just started and will take three to four months. The Department of Justice is reviewing the Garner case for possible criminal civil right violations.
Schneiderman said executive orders, have been used in the past, and would provide a faster solution than Cuomo’s plan to change the way grand juries operate.
“We need to remove the conflict of interest, we need to remove the appearance of bias, we need to shed sunlight on this process,” Public Advocate Letitia James said.
“This is a step towards New York being able to say the right answer, which is yes, of course black lives matter,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of New York Civil Liberties Union, said in an interview after the announcement.
Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa said reform needs to follow public distrust of the criminal justice system, and the governor is reviewing Schneiderman’s proposal.
A copy of Schneiderman’sletter to Cuomo can be read here.