Gwen Carr and Organizers Demand Mayor de Blasio Drop the Appeal of Historic Investigation into Eric Garner’s Killing
Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, Communities United for Police Reform, and the Justice Committee call for Mayor de Blasio to once again drop the appeal of the historic judicial inquiry into Eric Garner’s killing and release all the necessary records and documents related to the killing, following yesterday's discovery conference before Justice Erika M. Edwards of the New York State Supreme Court in Carr v. de Blasio.
At the discovery conference yesterday, the City’s Law Department made excuses for the delays in responding to petitioners’ requests for documents and records, which were sent in March. Documents and information pertaining to the killing of Eric Garner—including correspondence of Mayor de Blasio and top officials—remain secret. As part of the judicial inquiry, which was scheduled to begin July 19th but is now being moved to a later date (October 25), Mayor de Blasio, former NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, and other top City officials could be made to take the stand regarding their violations and neglect of duty following the killing of Eric Garner.
Petitioners in the case include Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Ellisha Flagg-Garner, sister of Eric Garner; Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham; Loyda Colon of Justice Committee; Joo-Hyun Kang of Communities United for Police Reform; Monifa Bandele of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Mark Winston Griffith of Brooklyn Movement Center; and Kesi Foster of Make the Road New York.
Below are statements from Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Loyda Colon, Executive Director of the Justice Committee; Mark Winston Griffith, the Brooklyn Movement Center and Communities United for Police Reform; and Gideon Oliver, police misconduct attorney and a past President of the New York City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Alvin Bragg, Co-Director of New York Law School’s (NYLS) Racial Justice Project and former NYS Chief Deputy Attorney General, Gideon Oliver, and Rachel Welt, New York Law School Lewis Steel Racial Justice Fellow, represent the petitioners.
“In the nearly seven years since my son Eric was murdered by the NYPD, Mayor de Blasio has delayed, obstructed, refused to fire officers and never fully investigated Eric’s killing or the cover-up that followed,” said Gwen Carr (she/her), mother of Eric Garner. “My family and New Yorkers deserve the truth. If Mayor de Blasio wants to make good on any of his talk about transparency and accountability for the NYPD, he needs to drop the appeal, stop hiding information, and fire Officer Justin Damico, Lt. Christopher Bannon and the other officers who helped murder my son and cover it up.”
“Mayor de Blasio has used his city lawyers to delay and obstruct this judicial inquiry for nearly two years, all to protect himself and the NYPD officers who killed, and then covered-up the murder, of Eric Garner,” said Loyda Colon (they/them), Executive Director of the Justice Committee. “Just like he does time and time again, Mayor de Blasio is shielding the NYPD from the consequences of their violent, abusive, and discriminatory policing that terrorizes and kills Black, Latinx, and other New Yorkers of color. Mayor de Blasio needs to drop the appeal, stop hiding information relevant to the case, and fire all the officers including Justin Damico, Lt. Christopher Bannon, and others, so the truth can finally come to light, and we can feel safer knowing that dangerous cops are taken off our streets.”
“Mayor de Blasio consistently blocks transparency and accountability for NYPD officers who kill, brutalize, harass, and abuse New Yorkers, just as he’s doing by blocking the judicial inquiry into Eric Garner’s killing from going forward,” said Mark Winston Griffith (
“Instead of choosing to make full disclosures in response to our FOIL and discovery requests or agreeing to take the witness stand, Mayor de Blasio and other City officials keep fighting tooth and nail to keep records and information that are critical to providing basic transparency in this case secret,” said Gideon Oliver, one of the petitioners’ lawyers. “They talk a good transparency game, but refuse to put their money where their mouth is. Make no mistake, those are deliberate, political decisions, and they should be held to account for them. Our legal team will stay following our clients’ lead to fight to make public every record, and every bit of witness testimony, that we can access through the courts, in support of our clients’ long struggle for transparency, accountability, and justice for Eric Garner.”
NEXT STEPS: Following the June 30 discovery conference before Justice Erika M. Edwards of New York State Supreme Court, the Court set the next conference for July 19 and ordered lawyers for the parties to submit briefs about the appropriateness of testimony from certain witnesses petitioners have asked to testify from the lawyers before then. The judicial inquiry is currently scheduled to begin on October 25. The City is still attempting to appeal a previous court decision to allow the judicial inquiry to move forward. Oral arguments in the appeal were heard on May 25th and the outcome of the appeal is still pending.
A historic petition was filed in August 2019, demanding a judicial inquiry into the violation and neglect of duty by Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner O’Neill, and others related to the unjust killing of Eric Garner. The New York Law School Racial Justice Project and the Law Offices of Gideon Oliver filed the petition on behalf of Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, Ellisha Flagg-Garner, sister of Eric Garner, Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham, Loyda Colon of Justice Committee, Joo-Hyun Kang of Communities United for Police Reform, Monifa Bandele of Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Mark Winston Griffith of Brooklyn Movement Center, and Kesi Foster of Make the Road New York. The petition was brought under Section 1109 of the New York City Charter, a “sunlight” provision.
The City moved to dismiss the lawsuit. On September 24, 2020, Justice Joan A. Madden issued a decision allowing a judicial inquiry to move forward with respect to alleged violations and neglect of duty in connection with: (1) the stop, arrest, and use of force against Mr. Garner; (2) the filing of false official documents concerning Mr. Garner's arrest; (3) the leaking of Mr. Garner's alleged arrest history and medical condition in the autopsy report; and (4) the alleged lack of medical care provided to Mr. Garner by police officers.
The City filed a notice of appeal, and during conferences with the Court, argued that it was entitled to an “automatic stay” halting all proceedings in the matter during the course of its appeal. Following arguments on that question, on December 23, 2020, the Court ruled that the “automatic stay” was not triggered and ordered the parties to move forward with further proceedings. Following Justice Madden’s retirement from the bench, Justice Erika M. Edwards was assigned to preside over the case.
On February 12, 2021, the City filed a motion with the Appellate Division, First Department, the appeals court, seeking to stay the judicial inquiry. On March 23, 2021, the First Department denied this request. The First Department heard the appeal on May 25, 2021.
In addition to the petition brought under Section 1109, the petitioners submitted a Freedom of Information Law request to the NYPD and the Civilian Complaint Review Board relating to Mr. Garner’s arrest and killing.
The judicial inquiry is currently scheduled to begin on October 25.
About Communities United for Police Reform
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, and to build a lasting movement that promotes public safety and reduces reliance on policing. CPR runs coalitions of over 200 local, statewide and national organizations, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD.Topics: Eric Garner