New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with the relatives of New Yorkers killed by police Tuesday and said he is close to signing an executive order directing the attorney general's office to investigate such killings.
The Democrat said the appointment of a special prosecutor would alleviate concerns that local prosecutors are too tied to law enforcement to properly investigate and potentially prosecute killings by police.
"We have seen it all across the country, where there is a lack of trust in the law enforcement system," he told reporters. "The criminal justice system does not work without trust... If there are suspicious circumstances, and a police officer kills someone who is unarmed and not dangerous, the obvious question is why."
Among the relatives who met with Cuomo was Gwen Carr, whose son Eric Garner died last year in a police chokehold in Staten Island. No officers were indicted in the death. About 50 advocates and family members rallied Tuesday afternoon in front of Cuomo's Manhattan office.
"We're here until everything we ask for is done because we don't want another killing by police," Carr said. She said she believed Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is "very capable" to act as a special prosecutor and "is better than what we have right now."
"This is not for us, this is for all the families that come after us," said Constance Malcom, the mother of 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, who was shot and killed by an NYPD officer in the Bronx in 2012.
Cuomo initially said he planned to sign the executive order on Tuesday but Tuesday afternoon his spokeswoman said it was still being finalized and would be signed soon.
Prosecutors and police groups have criticized the idea of a special prosecutor as unnecessary. On Tuesday Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, released a statement saying "many levels of oversight" already exist.
"Our concern is that there will be pressure on a special prosecutor to indict an officer for the sake of public perception and that does not serve the ends of justice," he said.