NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that the state attorney general now has a new job -- investigating some killings by police.
Cuomo said he's signing an executive order to establish a special prosecutor to restore trust in the police, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.
The governor hopes that the national conversation about police abuse will take a new turn and that other jurisdictions will follow his model. He said having a special prosecutor automatically eliminates the perception by some that a local district attorney who works regularly with cops has a conflict of interest.
Cuomo Set To Appoint AG As Special Prosecutor To Probe Police-Involved Killings
"It's also undeniable, but that we have a trust issue and the trust issue has to be addressed," Cuomo said.
Cuomo said he has confidence in district attorneys, but added, "The perception of a conflict of interest can be just as harmful as the actual conflict."
Nearing the one-year anniversary of the chokehold death of Eric Garner, and with questions raised about police conduct in other cases, Cuomo is signing an executive order naming Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as the special prosecutor to investigate police abuse cases throughout the state.
Cuomo said the attorney general will receive the case if the person was unarmed or possibly not dangerous.
The executive order will make New York the first state to use a special prosecutor in such cases, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported.
The governor's action comes after the Garner case, in which a grand jury did not indict the police officer who used the chokehold, and after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Those cases set off rallies and protests in New York City and around the country, and charges of police brutality, especially in minority communities.
"You need to restore trust in these communities or you're just going to have a repeat," Cuomo said.
The governor announced his decision shortly before protesters arrived outside his New York office.
Gwen Carr, Garner's mother, was among a number of protesters who have lost loved ones in cases where police brutality has been charged. She said a special prosecutor is important for the future.
"It's better than what we have," she said. "We have nothing.
"It's not for our families. It's for future families," Carr added. "We don't ever want to see this happen. What happened to my son, what happened to her son, millions of people -- we don't know their names; they're faceless -- we want justice for all."
After the demonstration, the governor met with the families and told them he will sign the executive order very soon, Kramer reported.
Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo's director of communications, said in a statement: "The Governor had a productive meeting with the families this afternoon, and looks forward to continuing the conversation. We are in the process of finalizing the Executive Order and the Governor looks forward to signing it soon."
The executive order will be in effect for one year. Cuomo is hoping that before it expires the Legislature will pass a bill extending the term.
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