Death Another Isolated Accident?
No incident personifies the subconscious impact
that former Mayor Giuliani has left on Black New Yorkers than the death of Mrs.
Alberta Spruill. Our community praise for the Mayor and Police
Commissioner following the NYC Police Departments' report, was ill informed.
In far too many circles within the community of
color, leaders pointed to the posture of City Hall as the reason for giving the
Mayor high accolades. One well known elected official said, "how nice
the Mayor spoke in comparison to Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor."
Without realizing it, we fail to see the mistake of judging Mayor Bloomberg on
his actions and not attempting to use the draconian behavior of Mayor Guilisni
as a standard. There should never come a time that the mere fact an
elected official speaks nice to us that we use that as a barometer for progress.
In order to properly understand the tragedy of our response, one must
analyise the totality of the incident. In contrast to what the Police
Commissioner attempted to portray in his 24-page report, the Ms. Spruill's death
was not an isolated incident. In fact he pointed out all that went wrong
on the day of her death, except his role.
Commissioner Kelly's role in the tragic death of Mrs. Spruill started long
before the raid on her apartment. It goes back to March 2002 when
police officers from Narcotic Unit entered the home of Mrs. Flornell and held
her entire family by gunpoint for three hours. The house was torn apart
and no drugs were located. One month later Police Commissioner Kelly met
with the Queens' local NAACP branch and residents from the Far Rockaway
community. He informed them that he was going to have a study done to
ensure this does not take place again.
No indication of a study was revealed. During October 15th of the same
year the police forced their way into the home of Mr. Robert (retired police
officer) and Mary Rogers (retired captain from NYC Department of Correction).
Mr. Rogers hearing the banging sound at his door drew his authorized gun
and moved to use it to defend himself. When the doors opened he noticed
that it was police officers and immediately place the gun under him to avoid
Mr. Rogers spoke with the Police commissioner during a community meeting and was
told by the commissioner that he would look into the situation and take steps to
ensure that there were no re-occurrences. NYPD spokesperson Mr. O'Looney
is quoted in one of the newspapers stating, "that there will be a
comprehensive report done to ensure there will be no re-occurrence of his type
of mistakes." Mr. O'Looney's comments were an indication that
no study was conducted after the March incident.
On October 23rd, eight days after the incident at Mr. Roberts home, the Chief of
Patrol produced a memo to the Patrol Service Bureau and to the Special
Operations Division. Although this memo addressed immediate concerns it
failed short of being a comprehensive study into search warrants execution.
Cleary eight days is not enough time to conduct a detail study into how
the police department conducts search warrants.
In addition, the memo that was sent out by the Chief of Patrol did not have the
power of a department procedure which impact on the entire police department.
The memo did not address how OCCB or the Detective Bureau continued to conduct
Less than one month after the Chief of Patrol memo the police forced their way
into the home of Mrs. Mack and her two 13-year-old sons. Mrs. Mack
was pulled from her bed topless. Her two sons were forced from under their
beds, where they ran and hid after hearing the loud bang and seeing a flash
(possible stun grenade). The officers ransacked the house and did not find
any drugs at the location.
During the month of January 2003, police officers forced their way into the home
of an off duty police officer. He was forced to the floor by gunpoint as
his wife and children looked on in horror. The officers made a mistake.
They stated, " they were looking for a male white who was climbing on
the outside terrace." The officer whose home was invaded was an
These cases are only some of the incidents that were documented by the New York
City Police Department. Wrong door search warrants are not new to this
department. There are other cases under the previous administration where an off
duty police officer discharged his gun and was almost killed. Another case
involved a mother being pulled out of her apartment nude in front of her
neighbors, only to find out that it was the wrong apartment.
The lack of desire to institute true reform caused Civil Rights attorney Norman
Siegel and members of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement to hold a press conference
on November 19th to announced that a notice of claim was filed with the city for
a law suit based on Mr. Roger's incident. At that press conference Mr.
Seigel stated that if something was not done to conduct a proper review of
search warrant procedures, someone will lose their life. The Police
Department continued business as usual in spite of their empty promises. Mrs.
Spruill turned out to be the person Mr. Siegel's predictions came true on.
After reviewing these police department's actions you could see why it was
insulting for our community leaders to be satisfied with a verbal
"sorry" and an inadequate 24-page police department
It is imperative that we begin to take a hard look at what is coming from City
Hall and the agencies that are a part of this administration. Nice tone
that is absent of nice substance will leave us with the same results that
Giuliani's abrasive tone left us. Hidden behind City Halls
pleasant speech are too many of the same Giuliani hand pick commissioners
and therefore we will have the same form of policies.
A call for reform in the Police Department must not be met with "I am
sorry." It is imperative that the agencies release information that
shows exactly what are the problems. To date the Police Commissioner has
yet to show what the ethnic breakdown is of where warrants were executed and
where stun grenades are used. Instead of answering the direct questions,
the Mayor parades around the city with his one African-American Deputy Mayor and
talk nice, with no results. By the way, in case you did not notice, the
abrasive talking Giuliani also only had one African-American Deputy Mayor.
Co-Founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care
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