Gwen Carr And Petitioners Respond To Court Order On Discovery and Witnesses In Judicial Inquiry
Today, NYS Supreme Court Justice Erika M. Edwards issued an order for discovery in the historic judicial inquiry into Eric Garner’s killing. The judicial inquiry will investigate the violations and neglect of duties by Mayor de Blasio and other City officials regarding the killing of Mr. Garner, their failure to conduct thorough investigations and discipline all NYPD officers responsible for misconduct, and the related cover-up.
As part of the decision, the City will be made to turn over extensive documents, recordings, and information that petitioners requested related to disciplinary investigations of officers involved, the unconstitutional stop and arrest of Mr. Garner, medical attention provided to Mr. Garner as well as the use of force, making of false statements, and leaking sealed records by all other officers who were responsible.
High-level officials including the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, Deputy Commissioner for Internal Affairs, and the Deputy Inspector, along with other NYPD officers involved, including Lt. Christopher Bannon, Officer Justin D’Amico, Sgt, Kizzy Adonis, and others will be made to testify and others, including Mayor de Blasio and NYPD commissioners, may have to provide sworn affidavits. Read the full order here.
The judicial inquiry is currently scheduled to begin on October 25th.
Below are statements from Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner and Loyda Colon, Executive Director of the Justice Committee, spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, and a petitioner in the case, responding to Justice Edward’s order for discovery:
“It’s been 7 years since Eric was murdered, and in spite of what Mayor de Blasio has said to me personally or to New Yorkers, he and other top city officials are still blocking transparency but now the court has ordered them to finally turn over information,” said Gwen Carr (she/her) mother of Eric Garner. “I’m disappointed that the court hasn’t said that they will force the Mayor and NYPD Commissioner to take the stand, but it’s good that they’re telling the City they need to turn over most of our discovery requests. The refusal to fully investigate and discipline officers for misconduct goes all the way to the top levels of city government. Officers like Justin Damico lied on official reports, Sgt. Christopher Bannon, texted that it was ‘no big deal’ Eric was killed, and we will be hearing from them directly in court. Mayor de Blasio and others should be made to provide the answers my family has been demanding for years and me and my supporters will keep fighting for the firing of all officers who did wrong, like Justin Damico, Lt. Christopher Bannon, and others.”
“After Mayor de Blasio’s years of delay, the Court has now ordered the City to turn over extensive documents, records, and transcripts that we’ve been demanding – including materials that should help us show how the City refused to fire officers, leaked sealed records and tried to cover it up at the highest levels of NYC government,” said Loyda Colon (they/them), Executive Director of the Justice Committee, spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, and a petitioner in Carr v. de Blasio. “If the City complies with the judge’s order, we’re going to know more about the killing of Eric Garner and the cover-up that followed in 30 days, than we have for the past seven years. We intend to hold the City accountable to provide all the information ordered by the court, including sworn affidavits that could come from Mayor de Blasio, former NYPD commissioners, and other top officials. Materials we get, including those related to any investigations and discipline that did or didn’t happen, will expose a cover up that reaches the highest level of government. We will continue to demand Mayor de Blasio fire ALL the officers involved, including NYPD Officer Justin Damico, Lt. Christopher Bannon, Sgt. Kizzy Adonis, Sgt Saminath, Officers Furlani, Ramos and others.”
NEXT STEPS: The next status conference in the case will take place on September 13, 2021. The judicial inquiry is currently scheduled to begin on October 25.
On August 27, 2019, the New York Law School Racial Justice Project and the Law Offices of Gideon Oliver filed a historic 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, against the Mayor of New York City, the NYPD Police Commissioner, and other New York City officials. The petition was brought under Section 1109 of the New York City Charter, a “sunlight” provision.
After the City moved to dismiss the lawsuit, Justice Joan A. Madden issued a decision on September 24, 2020, 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.
Unhappy with the court’s decision, the City tried to block the petition by filing a notice of appeal and by attempting to argue that there was an automatic stay to all further proceedings before the Supreme Court while the City’s appeal was pending. In December 2020, Justice Madden rejected the City’s arguments, allowing proceedings related to the inquiry to move forward, unless the City won a stay from an appeals court.
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 and the Appellate Division, First Department denied the appeal on July 15, 2021.
Following Justice Madden’s retirement from the bench, Justice Erika M. Edwards was assigned to preside over the case.
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, to which the City has not yet provided full disclosures. The City has also failed to adequately respond to a March 16 letter from petitioners’ lawyers requesting records and documents as a part of discovery in the judicial inquiry.
The judicial inquiry is currently set to begin on October 25 and petitioners filed a brief on July 8 regarding the importance and relevance of the testimony of Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner O’Neill, and other top officials as part of the judicial inquiry. Justice Edwards issued a ruling on July 23 on discovery that orders the testimony of some of the highest-level officials in the City and the NYPD and all the officers that were responsible for Eric Garner’s killing and cover-up. Justice Edwards also ordered the city to turn over a vast amount of documents, transcripts and recordings related to the killing of Eric Garner and the cover-up.
About Communities United for Police Reform
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is an unprecedented campaign to end abusive and 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