Grand jury to review Schenectady police custody death case
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Following its own year-long investigation, New York’s state attorney general’s office will convene a grand jury to review the circumstances surrounding the death of a 36-year-old Bronx man who stopped breathing in a Schenectady police car after being stopped for a traffic violation.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg said Friday that a grand jury will hear the case of Andrew Kearse, who died in May 2017 when he was in Schenectady to visit a friend. Police say Kearse ran after being stopped for a traffic violation and lost consciousness during the 3.2-mile (5.15-kilometer) drive to the police station.
The attorney general’s office launched an investigation under authority granted by a 2015 executive order from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The order allows the attorney general to intervene in cases where unarmed civilians die in police custody.
Kearse is heard struggling for breath and pleading for help in a recording his widow, Angelique Negroni-Kearse, said she recorded on her phone while reviewing a police dash-cam video with attorney general’s office investigators in January. She has accused officers of ignoring his cries of distress until it was too late.
Attorneys for Negroni-Kearse filed a lawsuit this month accusing Schenectady police of violating Kearse’s civil rights when they failed to get him medical attention when he said he felt sick and couldn’t breathe.
For activists, Kearse’s death recalled that of Eric Garner, who cried “I can’t breathe” during an attempted arrest on New York City’s Staten Island borough in 2014. Garner also died.
“The convening of a grand jury by the attorney general’s office is an important step in the journey for justice for the wrongful death of Andrew Kearse,” Sanford Rubenstein, lawyer for Kearse’s family, said in a statement on Friday.