Public Defenders Assail Slow Pace of Garner Investigation
MONDAY, JULY 18, 2016
Seymour W. James

(POLITICO Pro by Colby Hamilton) In a statement marking the second anniversary of Eric Garner's death while in police custody, the leadership of The Legal Aid Society assailed what it sees as a lack of accountability for the Staten Island man's death, which was ruled a homicide.

"Because the officers who unjustifiably killed our client have not been disciplined and continue to work at the NYPD, we still can't breathe," the statement, signed by Legal Aid's attorney-in-chief Seymour James, as well as the heads of its criminal and civil practices, Tina Luongo and Adriene Holder, said.

The statement went on to describe numerous areas within the criminal justice system that the indigent defender organization's leadership say remain problematic.

It went on to criticize the city's continued reliance on the "broken windows" policing model, despite a recent study by the Department of Investigation that saw "no link" between the policy and community safety. The statement continued with a host of issues of concern to the legal defense community, such as the state law that continues to try 16 and 17 year olds as adults, high rates of homelessness, and the treatment of transgender people by the police.

"Enough is enough," the joint statement said.

Federal law enforcement officials, both in the Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office and in the civil rights division of the Department of Justice, continue to look into Garner's death. Reports have indicated, and DOJ sources have confirmed, tensions between the two offices have surfaced over the speed of the investigation.