Governor Andrew Cuomo today issued an executive order directing the New York State attorney general “to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute certain matters involving the death of an unarmed civilian … caused by a law enforcement officer.” Cuomo’s executive order comes after significant public demands for such an action, with growing dissatisfaction by many of those calling for such action that Cuomo had not yet acted. He signed the executive order during a press conference/order signing ceremony at Manhattan’s John Jay College. (Our press conference photo gallery is here.)
Cuomo was joined by a group of women whose sons have died at the hands of police, including Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham, Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez, Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell and Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah, who have been the public face of the push for a special prosecutor. Cuomo recently met with them after Carr and Malcolm published an op-ed accusing him of “backtracking” on his promises.
Cuomo was also joined by many elected officials including Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Assm. Michael Blake, Sen. Kevin Parker, Sen. Gustavo Rivera, Assm. Keith Wright, former governor David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Sen. Bill Perkins (pictured below) Sen. Ruth Hassel-Thompson and Public Advocate Letitia James.
Cuomo has resisted granting Schneiderman additional powers available under the Executive Law during their shared time in office. (The attorney general does not have general criminal jurisdiction and has limited power to investigate state government, with such powers granted to the elected district attorney in each county.) Executive Order #147 relies on Executive Law Section 63(2) and 63(8) to grant the attorney general authority to act as “required” by the governor.
Here are Governor Cuomo’s remarks:
Here are Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s remarks: