Dear Governor Cuomo: A letter from the families of those killed by the NYPD

Dear Governor Cuomo,

We are family members of New Yorkers who were killed by New York police officers during the last two decades. There are too many New Yorkers suffering because of the epidemic of police brutality.

We are glad that you have pledged to make criminal justice reform a priority this year and that you are sensitive to the historic failure of District Attorneys and the grand jury system to hold police officers who unjustly kill New Yorkers accountable. However, we are disappointed that your seven-point agenda did not include more definitive steps towards ensuring police accountability in cases of excessive, deadly force.

There is one crucial reform that we urge you to support: establishment of a permanent independent prosecutor for all cases of police brutality, not just killings. Towards this end, we urge you to immediately enact an executive order to assign a special prosecutor to all cases of police killings moving forward.

New Yorkers have looked to District Attorneys to investigate and charge the officers who took the lives of their loved ones for decades. The hope is that investigations will lead to indictments and families will have their day in court to uncover the truth and begin to heal. In all of our cases, the District Attorneys failed to deliver any justice or accountability. The failure has occurred even in cases for which there is video evidence – look no further than Eric Garner and Ramarley Graham.

There is an inherent conflict of interest whenever District Attorneys must investigate the NYPD they rely upon and work with every day. The system is broken.

You can begin to fix this problem by immediately enacting an executive order to assign a special prosecutor to all cases of police killings moving forward.

After several months of heated debate over police reform in New York City and nationally, this is a major reform you can and should pursue immediately. The time to do it is now.

We need you to take action immediately to ensure the independent, fair and adequate investigation and prosecution of all police brutality cases moving forward.

Losing a child, sibling or spouse to police violence is horrific. The loss is compounded when the criminal justice system fails to provide any justice or accountability for those responsible for the deaths of New Yorkers.

A special prosecutor – independent of local police departments and local politics – would have helped our families, and can help countless families in the future. We urge you to act today by issuing an executive order to establish a special prosecutor for all cases of police killings in New York State.

Finally, we request a meeting with you by March 24, 2015 to discuss our call for a special prosecutor. Loyda Colon of the Justice Committee can be contacted to schedule this meeting.

Sincerely,

Constance Malcolm and Franclot Graham, parents of Ramarley Graham, killed February 2, 2012, in the Bronx

Valerie and 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 Rosario, mother of Anthony Rosario, killed January 12, 1995, in the Bronx

Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah, killed September 26, 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 August 23, 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, mother 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

Thank you to the Justice Committeee (JC), a Resist Grantee, for sending this letter to The Newsletter and giving permission to publish it. JC is a Latina/Latino-led organization dedicated to building a movement against police violence and systemic racism in New York City. Their organizing strategies include leadership development, political education, base-building and direct action, as well as resource development and service provision to meet the immediate needs of victims and their families.

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