News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Dec. 9, 2014: Leaders of a New York-based Caribbean institute are urging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Legislators to push for ‘Garner Law’ in New York State.
The Caribbean Guyana Institute For Democracy (CGID)’s call comes on the heels of a decision by a Staten Island, New York grand jury to return a non-indictment in the case of African-American resident, Eric Garner, who died after being choked into submission by a police officer trying to arrest him for selling loose cigarettes.
The call came on the same day when thousands gathered in protest again, this time outside the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY, which played host to the Royal Couple, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, on Monday night.
The group is urging state lawmakers enact changes to NYS Public Service Law and Criminal Procedure Law to assure a fairer, more equitable and transparent justice system.
In a letter sent to Governor Cuomo, the CGID said “the failure of the Richmond County (Staten Island) grand jury, under the direction of republican District Attorney, Daniel Donovan, Jr., to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for using an illegal choke-hold to kill Mr. Eric Garner, has brutally diminished the credibility of the criminal justice system.”
They said “the occurrence of Police officers killing Black men with impunity has become pervasive” which “has now enlightened the American people to the vulnerability of African-American men to prejudiced law enforcement officials and prosecutors who; in certain instances, manipulate procedural law and judicial instruments to attain certain pre-determined outcomes.”
The CGID wants amendments to the law to ensure New York City Police officers must live within the five boroughs; that officers who are convicted for killing unarmed citizens must be personally liable for their own civil penalties and that officers cannot use deadly force in situations where unarmed suspects pose no threat to themselves or others; must employ non-lethal methods to subdue unarmed, non-violent subjects and, must be thoroughly trained in these areas; including de-escalation tactics.
In cases where alleged Police abuse or misconduct result in death or serious injury, the District Attorney of the County “must,” after an investigation, either exercise his/her deliberate judgment to indict the subject officer and refer the matter for a preliminary/probable cause hearing before a judge, or, after an investigation, refer the matter directly to a judge for a preliminary/probable cause hearing, the CGID added.
The group also wants the defendant to cross-examine adverse witnesses and may introduce evidence at the preliminary/probable cause hearing but shall not be permitted to object to evidence.
“If the judge finds probable cause to believe a crime was committed, the defendant shall be indicted to stand trial,” the CGID recommends. “If the judge finds no probable cause to believe the defendant committed a crime, the judge must dismiss the complaint and discharge the defendant.”
Transcripts of all grand jury testimonies must be made public upon a motion for released which shall be heard and determined by a justice of the New York Supreme court, the group added.
“We believe that these changes if enacted will help to make the justice system fairer and more transparent, and will help to restore a level of trust in our criminal justice system,” the CGID said. “We look forward to engaging you and our various State and City legislators on the aforementioned recommendations.”
Protests have continued daily since the non-indictment last week with Akai Gurley’s name, the USVI-born man shot in a Brooklyn stairwell, also added to the calls for justice.