Sharpton Group Asks NYPD Watchdog to Probe Police Abuse After Garner Death
LOWER MANHATTAN—For the second time this week, a group has urged the new NYPD inspector general's office to investigate what they feel are patterns of misconduct in the police department following the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner.
The meeting was held just before Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an interfaith meeting of religious leaders to help heal the deepening rift between police and members of the community.
The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network's Law Enforcement and Public Safety Coalition, which consists of several retired NYPD officers and supervisors, was led by Northeastern Regional Director Kirsten John Foy. The group met with Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark G. Peters and NYPD Inspector General Philip Eure Friday and laid out patterns of misconduct they feel the office should investigate.
Some of the patterns include quotas and excessive use of force.
"They needed to hear that there is another vantage point of policing from people who are experts and professionals in that field. They needed to hear the specific policies that need to be advocated for and changed. They needed to hear the specific cases that pointed and undergirded those policy changes and recommendations," said Foy.
The meeting came as de Blasio announced that he had asked Cardinal Timothy Dolan to host an interfaith meeting of senior religious leaders later this month "focused on healing and deepening the relationship between police and community," read an announcement of the event.
"There is a tremendous need for healing at this moment," de Blasio said in the statement.
Dolan said the religious leaders will try to be a "source of continued healing and reconciliation."
Full details of the meeting, the second de Blasio has called in the wake of Garner's death, have yet to be announced.
Eure's office, which is independent of the NYPD, can't investigate individual cases but can audit and make recommendations on police policies, programs and operations. On Wednesday, relatives of people killed after confrontations with the NYPD met with Eure hoping to convince him to open an investigation into the department's use of force.
As in Wednesday's meeting, Friday's participants said there were no promises made.
Retired NYPD Det. Carlton Berkley of Brothers and Sisters Who Care said he felt the group's concerns were heard.
"We talked about dealing with the culture in that department and about trying to make some changes because those systemic problems will exist if nobody says anything or if they are not addressed," said retired corrections officer Charles Billups of the Grand Council of the Guardians.
Retired NYPD sergeant Anthony Miranda, head of the Latino Officers Association, called the almost two hour meeting "productive."
Among the patterns the group suggested for investigation were alleged arrest and summonses quotas and officers not facing adequate punishment when they are accused of serious crimes.
"The Garner case is an opportunity to highlight some of those patterns that may exist or do exist in the department," said Miranda.
Foy said the planned Aug. 23 March over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to protest Garner's death will go on even if participants have to drive over the bridge to Staten Island and then march once there.
There has been controversy over who was responsible for approving the march with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority saying approval of a permit was the NYPD's responsibility and the NYPD saying approval was up to the MTA because they bear the liability.
Foy dismissed the disagreement as a distraction from the real issues.
"We are going to go over the bridge one way or another...The issue has never been the bridge....the issue is about justice for Eric Garner," said Foy who added that the march was designed to put pressure on local and federal prosecutors examining the Garner case.
"They have to deal with the fact that Eric Garner is dead as the result of an illegal chokehold applied by New York City police officers," said Foy.
Police union officials have denied that Officer Daniel Pantaleo used a chokehold during a July 18 attempt to arrest the 43-year-old father of six for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. A video shows the officer placing Garner in what appears to be a chokehold while dragging him to the ground.