New York Daily News

July 7, 2015, 5:35 PM

  

 

Gov. Cuomo promises executive order to appoint special prosecutor to probe police-involved deaths

BY ERIN DURKIN, NOLAN HICKS, JENNIFER FERMINO

Family members of New Yorkers killed by police pushed Gov. Cuomo Tuesday for a strong executive order appointing a special prosecutor to probe such killings.

Cuomo said Tuesday the order would be issued that afternoon, but his staff later said it was still being worked on, after the governor sat down with the families.

"We are hoping that he keeps his word,” Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who was killed by a police chokehold on Staten Island, said outside Cuomo’s office.

"It's not for our families," she said. "It's for future families. We don't ever want to see this happen — what happened to my son."

Cuomo promised an executive order to empower Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the killings for a year, after he failed to get legislation passed to create a special monitor on police use of force.

The families and civil rights activists don’t want the arrangement limited to a year. They also want to ensure the order isn’t restricted to cases where the victim is unarmed, since that fact is sometimes in dispute.

Calls for a special prosecutor are motivated by concerns that district attorneys are too close to police to prosecute them effectively.

“I think this will be a major step forward,” Cuomo said. “A criminal justice system doesn’t work without trust. We will be the first state in the country to acknowledge the problem and say we’re going to create an independent prosecutor who does not have that kind of connection with the organized police departments and therefore you should have more confidence in the proceeding.”

He also said the prosecutor’s authority would apply both when the person was unarmed, and when there were questions about whether the killing was justified.

After Cuomo met with the families to air their concerns, his spokeswoman said details of the order were still being finalized.

“The governor had a productive meeting with the families this afternoon, and looks forward to continuing the conversation. We are in the process of finalizing the Executive Order and the governor looks forward to signing it soon,” Melissa DeRosa said.