Police officers may have a vested interest in a case being dropped, but they can also make an arrest if they have no alternative but to detain a person for their own safety.
In the wake of the acquittal of two officers involved in the killing of Eric Garner, a Staten Island resident, one of his lawyers has asked New York’s top prosecutor for guidance on how to deal with police.
The attorney, Paul Tanaka, said Tuesday that the district attorney’s office had been struggling to get prosecutors to share their experiences with the NYPD.
Tanaka was among dozens of lawyers who signed a letter demanding answers.
The officers who killed Garner in 2014 have pleaded not guilty.
The case is pending in the state’s Supreme Court, and the trial will be delayed until at least February, when a grand jury is expected to decide whether the case should proceed to trial.
But the case has gained international attention and has sparked protests and demonstrations.
The officers, Daniel Pantaleo and Wenjian Liu, have pleaded guilty.
In a recent report for the New York Times, Tanaka, a former prosecutor, called the Garner case an “epidemic” and the “most significant” case of police misconduct he had seen in the last 25 years.
In his letter, Tanaka said the NYPD’s response to the Garner incident was inconsistent, “at best” and “at worst.”
“It is clear that officers involved with the Garner shooting are reluctant to take any action at all, including the arrest of any suspect who may have committed the crime,” he wrote.
The Staten Island District Attorney’s Office has been trying to convince prosecutors to work with the department to resolve the case.
A spokeswoman for the office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But a lawyer for Tanaka told The Associated Press that the case “could be a case of prosecutorial misconduct” if prosecutors were not doing their jobs.
“If the district attorneys were acting as if this was a homicide, it would be prosecutorial abuse of power,” lawyer William Brown told the AP.
“They are not acting as prosecutors,” he said.
“The NYPD, not prosecutors, are prosecuting this case.”
Prosecutors say that in 2014, officers responded to a call of a suspicious person in the Bronx.
They then followed the man, who had been seen smoking marijuana.
They detained him for about an hour, until he was eventually arrested and charged with resisting arrest and possession of a weapon.
After the Garner verdict, the NYPD released video of the officers using force on Garner, who was unarmed.
The Garner case has been a flashpoint in the fight over police accountability.
Critics say it has drawn the attention of a growing number of prosecutors to their role in police misconduct cases.
Critics also point to a pattern of officers not charging the officers involved, and of officers who have been disciplined.
A lawyer for Garner’s family, who have accused the city of retaliating against them for bringing attention to the case, has said he wants prosecutors to bring charges against the officers.