MANHATTAN — Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order to appoint the New York State Attorney General as a special prosecutor in cases related to deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement officials.
Cuomo signed the Executive Order No. 147., Wednesday as community advocates and relatives of New Yorkers slain by law enforcement looked on at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. They included Gwen Carr, whose son Eric Garner died last year in police custody.
"Today, Governor Cuomo is listening to our voices of and those of other New Yorkers who support equal justice to enact an important reform to end this conflict of interest," a joint statement from the relatives said. "Nothing will bring back the lives of our loved ones, and this was never simply about our families – it was about all those who come after us because we so deeply understand the pain and heartache of losing a loved one and then having their life not matter within our justice system."
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will review instances when police kill an unarmed civilian or when there's a question about whether the slain civilian was armed or dangerous at the time of death.
It comes after officers weren't criminally charged last year in deadly encounters with unarmed men in New York and elsewhere. Critics say local prosecutors are too close to police to properly pursue such cases, creating a conflict of interest.