Groups demand creation of special prosecutor post
Two organizations banded together Wednesday in Mount Vernon to demand that Gov. David Paterson create the statewide position of special prosecutor.
The Westchester chapter of the National Black Police Association and 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care believe a conflict of interest arises when local district attorneys have to prosecute officers for misconduct. They believe it's difficult for prosecutors to turn on the very people who they depend on to build other cases.
Marq Claxton, who is a 20-year NYPD veteran, made clear that the groups aren't talking about cases where police justifiably used deadly force. "What we're talking about is conduct that goes way beyond what is reasonable, legally justified or even morally defensible," said Claxton, who co-founded 100 Blacks.
The push comes in the wake of acquittals for three NYPD officers in the Sean Bell case. The cops killed Bell in a 50-bullet barrage outside a Queens club in November 2006. Bell was unarmed.
In March, a White Plains grand jury declined to indict four Westchester County officers for the January 2008 shooting death of Mount Vernon Detective Christopher Ridley.
Meanwhile, jury selection is scheduled to begin May 19 for former Mount Kisco Officer George Bubaris. He's accused in the April 2007 beating death of immigrant Rene Perez.
Mount Vernon resident Rick Burton agrees that an independent statewide office would be best to handle such cases. "I think all sides should remove themselves from it because you don't want to have any type of inclination that they'll be favorable to their police departments," Burton said of prosecutors.
For the news conference with the groups, go to Channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.