Group expresses opposition to independent monitor, labels grand jury reform without special prosecutor inadequate.
Families unite to reiterate demand that Gov. Cuomo issue executive order for special prosecutor to uphold justice in state.
Albany, NY – The families of New Yorkers killed by police over the past several decades urged New York State legislators to reject of inadequate justice reforms in the final days of the legislative session, reiterating their demand that Governor Cuomo issue an executive order authorizing a special prosecutor for all police killings.
“We are here in Albany to make sure our message is very clear to our legislators and Governor Cuomo,” said Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell. “Any criminal justice reform that does not include the Governor signing an executive order for a special prosecutor will be inadequate.”
The group of families specifically called for rejection of an “independent monitor” proposed by the governor to review grand jury proceedings after a decision has already been rendered, and explained that reform to the grand jury process without a special prosecutor is not true reform.
“The independent monitor Governor Cuomo is proposing is counterproductive and will not address the systemic lack of police accountability that allows officers to continue to kill our children without any consequence,” said Iris Baez, the mother of Anthony Baez. “We are calling on the Governor to be the leader we need and sign an executive order for a special prosecutor.”
“Grand jury reform will not solve the core problem,” said Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner. “It may make it possible for us to look back at what was done wrong, but we need to move forward. We need the governor to sign an executive order for a special prosecutor today.”
The families in Albany are part of a larger group of the surviving family members of 18 New Yorkers killed by the police, who have been calling for Governor Cuomo to issue an executive order for a special prosecutor during the last several months. All have one thing in common: district attorneys failed to ensure justice or accountability in the criminal cases related to the killings of their loved ones.
“This past Friday I went to another wake for another person who was killed by the police,” said Margarita Rosario, mother of Anthony Rosario and aunt of Hilton Vega. “I don’t want to say ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ to any more families. We need police officers to know they will be held accountable for killing Black and Latino New Yorkers. We need the Governor to enact an executive order for a special prosecutor.”
In April, several of the families met with Governor Cuomo in his Albany office, where he conveyed that he would issue an executive order for a special prosecutor if his justice reform proposal that includes an independent monitor was not passed by the state legislature by the June 17 end of the legislative session.
Since meeting with the Governor in April, the families and advocates supporting them have been vocal about their belief that current reforms being considered do not go far enough.
It has been widely recognized that local district attorneys – who collaborate with and depend upon police departments for success on a daily basis – have an inherent and systemic conflict-of-interest that is an overwhelming impediment to justice in cases where police unjustly kill civilians.
President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing – comprised of police commissioners, law enforcement experts and community stakeholders – recommended the use of prosecutors who are independent and external of local district attorneys when police kill civilians.
The family members involved in the effort to advocate for Governor Cuomo to issue an executive order for a special prosecutor in police killings include:
Constance Malcolm & Franclot Graham, parents of Ramarley Graham, killed February 2, 2012 in the Bronx
Valerie & William Bell, parents of Sean Bell, killed November 25, 2006 in Queens
Kadiatou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo, killed February 4, 1999 in the Bronx
Kenneth Chamberlain Jr., son of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., killed November 19, 2011 in White Plains
Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, killed on July 17, 2014 in Staten Island
Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez, killed December 22, 1994 in the Bronx
Margarita and Tony Rosario, mother of Anthony Rosario, killed January 12, 1995 in the Bronx
Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah, killed September 25, 2012 in Manhattan
Natasha Duncan, sister of Shantel Davis, killed June 14, 2012 in Brooklyn
Cecilia Reyes, mother of Noel Polanco, killed October 4, 2012 in Queens
Nancy Pacheco, sister-in-law of Jayson Tirado, killed October 21, 2007 in Manhattan
Amarilis Collado, wife of John Collado, killed September 6, 2011 in Manhattan
Nicholas Heyward Sr., father of Nicholas Heyward Jr., killed September 27, 1994 in Brooklyn
Olga Negron, mother of Iman Morales, killed September 24, 2008 in Brooklyn
Carol Gray, mother of Kimani Gray, killed March 9, 2013 in Brooklyn
Carmen Morales and Yesenia Vega, mother and Daughter of Hilton Vega, killed January 12, 1995 in the Bronx
Jennifer Gonzalez, mother of the child of Kenny Lazo, killed in April 8, 2008 in Bay Shore
Cynthia Howell, niece of Alberta Spruill, killed in May 16, 2003 in Manhattan