Nearly a year after the death of Eric Garner, and just hours before Gov. Andrew Cuomo was expected to announce an executive order appointing a special prosecutor to investigate police-involved deaths, mothers of men killed by police officers rallied outside the governor’s midtown office to hold him to his promises.
“It’s not for our families, but for future families,” said Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man who was killed after being put in a chokehold by a police officer last July. “If we had a special prosecutor at the time of my son’s death, I think it would have made a tremendous difference, but now, we’re asking for a special prosecutor for other families.”
Last month, Cuomo appointed New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as the special prosecutor tasked with investigating incidents of police officers killing civilians for a one-year term. In April, Cuomo met with Carr, and other surviving family members of people killed by police officers, including Constance Malcolm. Malcolm’s son, Ramarley Graham, 18, was fatally shot inside his Bronx home in 2012 after being chased in by an NYPD officer.
The families are calling on the governor to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate instances of when armed and unarmed civilians are killed, and keep the prosecutor in place longer than a year.
“He has promised us [the executive order] … we hope he is the upstanding person we feel he is,” Carr said.
In an op-ed published in the Daily News on Monday, Carr and Malcolm wrote that Cuomo had started to “backtrack in his public comments about what the special prosecutor will cover and the length of time it will exist,” which is “inconsistent with commitment Cuomo made to us.”
“This is a decades problem … a problem across the country that can’t be solved in one year,” said L. Joy Williams, president of the Brooklyn NAACP, said at the rally.
“We definitely applaud the governor, because no governor has ever done this before,” Carr said, adding she thought the April meeting was positive and had a great influence on Cuomo’s move to issue the order.
The first anniversary of Garner’s death is next Friday, July 17. Carr said her family intends to mark the date with die-ins and other events across the city.