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AG names team to probe killings by police

Mothers of loved ones killed by police rally following a ceremony Wednesday at John Jay College in New York City, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order naming state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman as a special prosecutor for police-related civilian deaths. Schniederman then announced a new unit to assist in the investigations. Among those attending are Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell; Natasha Duncan, sister of Shantel Davis; Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez; Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah; and Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner. Office of the governor – Kevin P. Coughlin

Mothers of loved ones killed by police rally following a ceremony Wednesday at John Jay College in New York City, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed an executive order naming state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman as a special prosecutor for police-related civilian deaths. Schniederman then announced a new unit to assist in the investigations. Among those attending are Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell; Natasha Duncan, sister of Shantel Davis; Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez; Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah; and Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner. Office of the governor – Kevin P. Coughlin

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has picked a veteran prosecutor to lead a new unit that will investigate and potentially prosecute police for killing unarmed civilians.

Alvin Bragg, now an executive deputy attorney general for social justice, will oversee four other prosecutors serving on the new Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit. Schneiderman tells The Associated Press he created the unit after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order directing the attorney general to investigate killings by police.

The unit will examine cases involving the killings of unarmed civilians by police or when there are questions about whether the slain civilian was armed and dangerous.

Prior to joining Schneiderman’s office, Bragg was an assistant U.S. attorney in New York’s Southern District. He has also worked as chief of litigation and investigations for the New York City Council.

The other attorneys in the unit are Assistant Attorney General Paul Clyne; Assistant Attorney General Diane LaVallee, a SUNY Buffalo Law School alumna; Gail Heatherly, Schneiderman’s chief of conviction review; and Wanda Perez-Maldonado, senior counsel in his Public Integrity Bureau and a former Bronx County prosecutor.

Schneiderman said the team “includes some of the best and most talented prosecutors in New York.”

“I am confident they will evaluate each of these cases fairly and impartially, while working to promote justice and ensure independence,” she added.

Cuomo signed the executive order on Wednesday in front of family members of New Yorkers killed by police, including Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner.

“This is a day of fairness, a day of justice,” Cuomo said. “It’s a day that should go a long way in restoring peoples’ trust in our system of criminal justice and our system of government.”

Critics have said local prosecutors cannot properly investigate or prosecute such cases because of their close relationships with police. Cuomo’s executive order is good for one year.

Advocates had initially wanted Cuomo’s executive order to apply to all cases when someone is killed by an officer.

During a ceremony at John Jay College, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, center, issued an executive order Wednesday naming state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, left, as a special prosecutor for police-related civilian deaths.  Office of the governor – Kevin P. Coughlin

During a ceremony at John Jay College, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, center, issued an executive order Wednesday naming state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, left, as a special prosecutor for police-related civilian deaths. Office of the governor – Kevin P. Coughlin