50 NYC Electeds to Mayor Adams & NYPD: Let Charges Stand Against Officers Who Killed Kawaski Trawick
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50 NYC Elected Officials to Mayor Adams & NYPD: Let Charges Stand Against Officers Who Killed Black Gay Man
New York, NY – Today, just three days after the four-year anniversary of Kawaski Trawick being killed by NYPD officers in his own home and a week before the April 24th discipline trial of the officers is scheduled to begin, an NYPD judge will weigh whether or not to dismiss one of the charges, which could undermine the entire trial. In response to being briefed over the weekend by the Justice Committee and others of the late-breaking Friday announcement by the judge, and ahead of today’s 12pm deadline for filing of arguments, fifty New York city and state elected officials have come together to send a letter to Mayor Adams and NYPD Commissioner Sewell with one clear demand: that all current misconduct charges against Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis must continue to stand – and that the long-overdue discipline trial be allowed to move forward without additional interference on behalf of the officers by the NYPD or the police union.
The Justice Committee and the Trawick family learned late Friday that NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials, Rosemarie Maldonado - who is overseeing the discipline trial for NYPD Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis - is considering the possibility of dismissing one of multiple misconduct charges ahead of the trial – two years after the charges were first substantiated by the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). The specific charge in question relates to the illegal entry and trespass by Officers Herbert Davis and Brendan Thompson.
The letter from elected officials, signed by Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, State Senator Jessica Ramos, State Senator Julia Salazar, a majority of the City Council and others states: “The video clearly shows Davis using his baton to break the chain on Kawaski Trawick's door and then pushing the door open to gain illegal entry to his home. There was no emergency, exigent circumstance or other legal justification for this initial escalation that preceded the multiple subsequent escalations, tasing and shooting by Thompson and Davis that resulted in Kawaski Trawick's death less than two minutes later. In fact, video shows the officers leisurely chatting with people in the lobby before going up to Kawaski Trawick’s apartment.”
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Maldonado gave the CCRB and the officers’ attorneys until noon today to submit written arguments on the matter - a deadline only about 72 hours after the CCRB and lawyers for the officers were notified that she was considering an 11th hour, pre-trial dismissal of the charge.
Elected officials noted their concern that the NYPD seemed to be unfairly intervening before the trial in favor of the officers: “It seems that the DCT is unfairly initiating arguments on behalf of the defense, on questions that have already been long-settled, before the trial even begins.”
The letter goes on to state: “We are concerned that this may reflect what seems to be an on-going pattern under the current administration to downgrade discipline for serious officer misconduct and weaken the NYPD disciplinary process. In this case, it unfairly sets the stage to reduce the likelihood that Officers Thompson and Davis are fired and risks undermining the discipline trial and faith in government.”
“I’m disgusted and heartbroken that there’s yet another possible obstacle to the firing of the police who killed my son,” said Ellen Trawick, mother of Kawaski Trawick. “It’s unbelievable to me and my family that the NYPD would consider tossing out any of the charges on the four-year anniversary, a week before my family and I need to fly back to NYC for the trial. It feels like the NYPD trial judge is acting like a lawyer for the cops. The video was clear - Kawaski was cooking in his home when Davis used his baton to break the chain holding Kawaski’s door closed and they busted in without his permission and then murdered him in 112 seconds. The NYPD shouldn’t entertain this kind of change at this stage, especially since the officers were charged two years ago - in 2021. We're grateful to all of the elected officials standing with us to demand the firing of Thompson and Davis for the murder of our son and safety for all New Yorkers.”
On April 14, 2019, Kawaski Trawick locked himself out of his apartment while he was cooking. The fire department let Mr. Trawick back into his apartment without incident. Mr. Trawick was cooking in his home after the situation had been resolved when NYPD Officers Thompson and Davis illegally entered Mr. Trawick’s apartment and killed him in 112 seconds.
After tasing and shooting Mr. Trawick, neither of the officers attempted to administer emergency medical aid. They closed the door to Kawaski’s apartment, then stood outside, leaving Mr. Trawick to bleed out on the floor.
Of the charges and subsequent sign-on letter City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said: ”“Police accountability is essential to public safety, but cannot be delivered when substantiated disciplinary charges are arbitrarily dismissed by NYPD before a trial even begins. It’s outrageous and deeply concerning that the NYPD is considering the dismissal of misconduct charges against Officers Thompson and Davis for their killing of Kawaski Trawick. Four years after Kawaski’s death, the NYPD must not interfere in the misconduct charges against the officers responsible for his death to undermine their long overdue trial. Accountability for their misconduct is important to Kawaski’s family and our entire city.”
This discipline trial for both officers is scheduled to begin on April 24, 2023. Civil employees in New York State generally do not face disciplinary action after 18 months from an incident. However, police are often not charged with formal disciplinary misconduct charges within 18 months when the misconduct involves killing, brutalizing or sexually assaulting a New Yorker. In order to discipline police for misconduct after 18 months, criteria for a “crime exception” must be met which means that misconduct charges must have penal code equivalents. Since the NYPD has historically failed to bring discipline charges against officers who have killed, brutalized or sexually assaulted New Yorkers within the 18-month period, the few instances where formal disciplinary action has been taken is often outside of the 18-month period, following the “crime exception”.
“This latest move by the NYPD is just the most recent scandalous example in four years of delays and obstruction - showing how their system is designed to shield cops from firing and discipline - even in outrageous cases where New Yorkers are killed in their homes,” said Loyda Colon Executive Director of the Justice Committee, and member of Communities United for Police Reform. “Just the idea that the NYPD is considering dismissing trespass charges at this late stage is an insult to Kawaski’s family, and a danger to public safety in NYC. This comes after the NYPD’s decision earlier this month to interrupt the trial by two weeks to accommodate an NYPD official’s vacation. The system is rigged - the NYPD will be testifying for the cops, will be the judge and final decision-maker of the trial and now it seems like the NYPD is acting as an additional lawyer for the cops. We demand Mayor Adams, Commissioner Sewell, and Deputy Commissioner Maldonaldo to allow all of the substantiated charges to stand - Thompson and Davis both need to be fired.”
Find the full text of the letter HERE.
“The NYPDs decision to consider unilaterally dismissing one of the misconduct charges related to these two officers is unacceptable,” said Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. “If this action is taken by the Department, it will call into question the credibility of our disciplinary systems intended to hold officers accountable.”
"I'm very concerned by this recent move by the NYPD to consider tossing charges the week before the discipline trial is set to begin," said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. "Such a move would unfairly tilt the scales of the trial in favor of the officers who killed Kawaski Trawick and erode public confidence in the NYPD. I urge the Mayor & Commissioner to do the right thing and allow the trial to move forward with the charges that were substantiated two years ago."
“The parents and family of Kawaski Trawick waited four years for a disciplinary trial in the case of their son, who was killed by two NYPD officers while cooking in his home in my district in the Bronx in 2019,” said Council Member Pierina Sanchez. “Any proposal to remove charges from consideration that were already substantiated by the CCRB is a gross attempt to further evade accountability. The Mayor and Police Commissioner must ensure all misconduct charges remain in place, and the process be allowed to proceed without any additional interference.”
“To prematurely dismiss any of the charges substantiated against Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis would fly in the face of truth and accountability,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Our city is responsible for holding NYPD accountable to the fullest extent in any instance of potential misconduct and abuse of power. Kawaski Trawick and his loved ones deserve a fair shot at justice, and it is on Mayor Adams and NYPD Commissioner Sewell to maintain the integrity of due process.”
“I am extremely disappointed that officers Thompson and Davis's misconduct charges were reconsidered at the last minute in their discipline trial,” said Council Member Nantasha Williams. “The NYPD's role is to serve and protect our community, not to harm it, which is why these Officers should face consequences for their actions. Unfortunately, the New York Police Department's disciplinary process is deteriorating, and there appears to be a lack of accountability and discipline. With my colleagues, I strongly urge you to prevent this potential miscarriage of justice, so that future impartiality in trials against Officers can be prevented.”
“Four years after Kawaski Trawick’s murder, his family and community are still experiencing terrible heartbreak,” said Council Member Tiffany Caban. “There is no reason his murderers should still wear badges and carry guns, but removing them from the police force is just the first step. Nothing will bring Kawaski back, but we must act now to honor his memory by saving as many lives as possible."