The Grand Jury empanelled to review the officer-involved shooting of Kamal Flowers in June has concluded its work by declining to issue an indictment, thereby ending the criminal investigation into this tragic event.  A short while ago, I joined City Council Members and other municipal leaders to react publicly to this decision, acknowledge the pain felt by many in New Rochelle, and call for our community to come together in a spirit of healing and mutual respect.  My full statement follows below:

On June 6, we gathered here to deliver the sobering news of an officer-involved shooting. At that time, we shared whatever information was available to us, expressed our heartfelt grief, and gave our support to a thorough review.

Earlier today, the Grand Jury empanelled to examine this case concluded its work by declining to issue an indictment, thereby ending the criminal portion of the review process. In so doing, the Grand Jury implicitly determined that the use of force in this incident fell within legal standards. New Rochelle’s leadership respects our system of law and the vital role of the Grand Jury within it, and we affirm our confidence in the professionalism, integrity, and commitment to service of the NRPD.

But we fully acknowledge the sharp limitations of this decision: it will not erase the tragedy of a young man losing his life; it will not relieve the anguish of the Flowers family or their friends; it will not lift and may even intensify the mistrust felt by many toward the criminal justice system; it will not ease the daily challenges confronting our city, our neighbors, and our Police Department; it will not alter the dangerous prevalence of guns in our society, which prey especially on marginalized communities; and it will not undo the profound effect of this tragedy on the whole of New Rochelle.

Moreover, the events of June 5 did not occur in a vacuum, but rather in the context of a nationwide conversation about bias and structural racism across a spectrum of American institutions.

So while one phase of this process has concluded, the vital work of healing our community goes on, and now requires even greater focus and intensity. The challenge and the moral imperative for all of us is to be honest about our disparate reactions to the news of the day, without allowing these different perspectives to tear us apart. We must use this moment to find a better way forward together.

In this spirit, we are grateful for the hard work and service of New Rochelle’s Policing Review Committee, under the leadership of Council Member Yadira Ramos-Herbert with support and cooperation from the NRPD, and we look forward to exploring its recommendations. We are grateful, too, for the robust input, dialogue, guidance, and constructive criticism of civic and faith leaders throughout New Rochelle, especially among communities of color. And we are grateful for the many partners who join us in determination to magnify positive opportunities for young people to succeed, and to build a truly just and equitable city, with strong bonds of trust between the Police and the people they serve.

Affirmation, sorrow, relief, anger – all of these feelings are legitimate and reflect the diversity of which New Rochelle is so proud. It is not our purpose today to insist that anyone accept a narrative for June 5 that conflicts with their lived experience and sincere belief. Instead, let us strive to stand in each other’s shoes with respect and understanding. Let us take this opportunity to enlarge the process of acknowledging history, discovering truth, and achieving reconciliation. And then let us each do our part to advance the cause of justice, safety, and peace for all of our neighbors.

 

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