There’s at least a small chance of justice for the family of a Black man who died in police custody recently. The family’s lawyer applauded the state attorney general for taking over the case involving the suspicious death since all too often the cozy relationship between police departments and local district attorneys can’t be trusted.
Dwayne Pritchett died in handcuffs in New York City late last month, but why he was taken into custody and what happened after that are in dispute. A witness in the Bronx apartment contradicted the police claim that the 48-year-old attempted to take an officer’s weapon on Jan. 28, the New York Daily News reported.
“We’re pleased that the attorney general is involved and taking jurisdiction over this case rather than having a local investigation,” Sanford Rubenstein told NewsOne on Thursday.
While cases like this one are typically handled by a local district attorney, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Wednesday that his office was taking over the case. A 2015 executive order from the governor granted the attorney general jurisdiction over police-involved deaths of unarmed people, such as the Eric Garner case.
It’s relatively rare for law enforcement officers to face justice after killing unarmed suspects because cops can simply claim that they feared for their lives or tell a version of the incident that requires the public to take their word. Those officers who are indicted seldom get convicted, even when there’s video evidence that appears to contradict their testimony.
One of the latest cases that begs for an independent investigator involved the fatal shooting of a Black teenager in Los Angeles on Sunday. Deputies claimed 16-year-old Anthony Jacob Weber had a gun even though they couldn’t find the weapon, claiming someone removed it from the scene.
These two cases underscore the reasons why many Black folks don’t trust the police. Because of that, Rubenstein decided to launch his own probe.
“This investigation by the attorney general will be totally independent,” Rubenstein said. “So the public will have more confidence in the results.”