Council to Hold Hearing After Custody Death

NEW YORK (AP) -

The New York City Council will hold an oversight hearing next week on a police department review of its training procedures in the wake of the death of a Staten Island suspect while in custody.

Eric Garner died in police custody in July, and the resulting furor roiled the city, sparking protests, placing Mayor Bill de Blasio in a political bind and prompting a passionate re-examination of the relationship between police and communities of color.

Police Commissioner William Bratton pledged to do a thorough review of how the department trains its officers and promised substantive changes. He has agreed to provide an update to the city council in a hearing scheduled for September 8.

“The New York City Police Department is embarking on an ambitious program to re-train all 35,000 officers, so this hearing will be a critical way to openly discuss their methodology and procedures,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said. “The City Council takes its oversight role very seriously, and we expect to have a thorough and substantive hearing that will be informative to New Yorkers.”

Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan has announced that the case will be sent to a grand jury, though Al Sharpton has said he is too cozy with the police and has asked for the federal government to take over the case. Sharpton led several thousand people on a march on Staten Island last week Saturday, demanding criminal charges against the officers involved.

Mark-Viverito, a Democrat from Manhattan, was the highest-ranking government official to participate in the march.

Two of the officers who confronted Garner have been reassigned while the investigation is conducted.

After Garner’s death, Bratton announced at a press conference he’d already ordered “a top-to-bottom review” of all NYPD training, and pledged to retrain all 35,000 uniformed officers, especially in the use of force.

He also dispatched officers to Los Angeles to consult with officials there on their training procedures, vowing to create a state-of-the-art training program for the nation’s largest police force that draws on the best practices from around the country. Details of the review and new training program have not been released, though Bratton said it would stress that chokeholds have been banned.

De Blasio signaled strong support for Bratton and backs creating a new training program. He has pledged to continue to drive down crime while repairing relations between minorities and the NYPD unions.