Family members of the late Kawaski Trawick, Allan Feliz and Antonio Williams — all killed by police in separate incidents — gathered with advocates and elected officials behind City Hall on Oct. 12 to call on the NYPD commissioner to fire the cops who killed their loved ones and stop slow-footing cases that have dragged on for years. The family of Delrawn Small, who was also killed by police, was unable to attend but intended to join advocates.
“”NYPD stop the lies,” advocates chanted together at the pedestrian plaza between City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge. “Fire cops that take our lives!”
The families united together to underscore what they described as an ongoing pattern of deliberate delays by the NYPD to drag cases beyond the usual statute of limitations when authorities can be held accountable for wrongdoing. The advocates cited a deputy NYPD commissioner’s recent recommendation against punishing the police officers in the Trawick case, which stems from 2019 when Officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis entered Trawick’s apartment as he was cooking and shot him in less than two minutes. The case led the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) to substantiate multiple misconduct charges against the officers, but the board said it took the NYPD 19 months to present video footage to the CCRB, according to the New York Times.
Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference on Oct. 10 that Police Commissioner Edward Caban would “find out [what] was the delay on our part, exactly what happened in the delay, because we don’t want to interfere with the wheels of justice. It can’t happen on our end, so he’s looking into that.”
While the Oct. 12 gathering represented the latest in an ongoing string of rallies and press conferences for police accountability in the Trawick case, advocates are now banding together to take their case directly to the mayor with a letter calling for the officers to be fired and for a meeting with the mayor before Caban announces his decision regarding the fate of the officers. The letter was signed by 17 families of New Yorkers killed by police as well as 53 groups standing in support of Trawick’s family, including Housing Works, Caribbean Equality Project, Audre Lorde Project, the New York City Anti-Violence Project, and LGBTQ political clubs like the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn.
“The possibility that Officers Thompson & Davis may face zero disciplinary consequences for their killing of Kawaski Trawick is wrong and sends the message that when NYPD officers kill New Yorkers and when the NYPD delays and obstructs investigations, the NYPD and officers who engage in misconduct will be shielded from consequences for wrongdoing,” the letter stated. “This is not only bad policy — it promotes the dangerous and anti-democratic idea that the NYPD should be allowed to operate with impunity and will not be held accountable.”
The growing pressure on the Adams administration to take action was also seen on the other side of City Hall, where a truck with New Jersey license plates sat in the middle of a lane on Broadway featuring a large digital billboard calling on New Yorkers to demand the firing of the cops who killed Trawick, an out gay Black man.
“NYPD discipline is a sham!” the billboard stated. “Now they want to clear the cops who killed Kawaski Trawick.” On the other side of the truck, a message read, “Kawaski Trawick was cooking at home when NYPD killed him in 112 seconds.”
The other cases also involved police shootings. In September of 2019, Williams was ambushed by plainclothes cops, tackled, and fatally shot along with an officer. Small was killed by off-duty NYPD officer Wayne Isaacs on July 4 of 2016 while they were at the same intersection. An officer fatally shot Feliz in Oct. of 2019 during a traffic stop.
Feliz’s brother, Samy Feliz, said ever since the CCRB substantiated charges against officers in that case, the NYPD and police union have been “making every attempt to stop the disciplinary process.”
“All of these families have two things in common,” said Loyda Colon, a lead advocate who serves as the executive director of the Justice Committee and member of Communities United for Police Reform. “The NYPD killed someone that they love and the NYPD delayed their investigation past the discipline deadline for all of them.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a longtime supporter of the Trawick family and other families of individuals killed by police, delivered impassioned remarks emphasizing what he described as a lack of accountability in the NYPD.
“Every time we talk about adding to accountability in the NYPD, what comes back to us is that there are already many layers of accountability in the NYPD,” he said. “And we have to keep reiterating that that is just not true. There are many layers, but there is no real accountability for the NYPD except the NYPD, and that is a huge part of the problem we’re seeing here. We’re seeing that the entity that creates rules breaks rules, then has the final say about what happens. That is a problem.”
He added: “It’s adding salt to a very deep, unhealed wound. This administration is claiming it’s different from the previous ones. It’s just time to not just say that, but to show that.”
Councilmembers Carmen De La Rosa of upper Manhattan and Pierina Sanchez of the Bronx also delivered remarks supporting the families.
The joint press conference came as Trawick’s mother repeatedly urged the mayor to respond to the letter and agree to a meeting prior to making an announcement on whether the officers would face punishment. The mayor said on Oct. 10 he would be willing to meet with the family after the commissioner makes a determination in the case.
“I’m hoping to meet with the mayor before the commissioner makes a final decision,” Ellen Trawick, Kawaski Trawick’s mother, told Gay City News in a one-on-one interview after the press conference. “I don’t see a point of meeting with the mayor after a decision is made.”
When asked if the commissioner would comment on the status of the case, the NYPD would only say that “the disciplinary process is ongoing.”
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