by DARIEN LAMEN
(WXIR-Rochester) In the face of widespread outrage over the police killing of Daniel Prude back in March, some local officials in Rochester are hoping that the New York State Attorney General's office will sort everything out.
But since the state of New York began requiring the AG's office to handle these kinds of cases, not a single police officer has yet been convicted of a crime.
In 2015, following the police killing of Eric Garner by NYPD officers, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order requiring that the AG's office conduct all criminal investigations into unarmed civilian deaths "caused by" law enforcement, whether in custody or not, and, "if warranted," criminally prosecute them.
But in the 5 years since the Executive Order was issued, the AG's office has brought charges against just 4 police officers, with zero convictions to date.
The Democrat & Chronicle reports that the NYS AG's office has completed 26 investigations into civilian deaths at the hands of law enforcement, with criminal charges brought against 4 police officers. A grand jury declined to indict 2 of them. 1 was acquitted. 1 is still awaiting trial.
The percentage of all police killings in New York State that are referred to the AG's office for investigation could be as low as 20%.
According to data compiled by the Washington Post, police have fatally shot 102 people in New York in the last five years. And according to data compiled by the site Mapping Police Violence, the number of people killed by any form of police deadly force (including not only shooting, but also restraints, vehicles, etc.) is around 125.
The vast majority of those killed were allegedly armed, according to police, and therefore their deaths were ineligible for special investigation by the AG's office.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Letitia James said that her office has been looking into Daniel Prude's death since April 16th, and that these investigations typically take about one year.
"As with every investigation, we will follow the facts of this case and ensure a complete and thorough examination of all relevant parties," James's statement read. "We will work tirelessly to provide the transparency and accountability that all our communities deserve."
The AG's Office also said this week that their investigation into Daniel Prude's death does not preclude the City of Rochester from taking action of its own, or from speaking publicly about the case, contrary to what Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren claimed in a press conference Tuesday.
Amid calls for her resignation, Warren announced Thursday that she was suspending 7 RPD officers involved in Prude's death with pay.
DARIEN LAMEN is news producer/director for WXIR Community Radio. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org