Grand juries that failed to deliver indictments against police officers in two separate controversial cases are reinforcing a widespread view that the justice system treats black suspects more harshly than white suspects, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday.
“The problem is the perception itself, even if it wasn’t the reality,” Cuomo told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie. “If people don’t trust the justice system, you have a problem, because the justice system’s responsibility is two fold — one to do justice but second to instill the confidence in people that they are represented by that justice system.”
Cuomo addressed the outrage expressed by protestors who took to the streets in cities across the country Thursday evening over a New York grand jury's decision not to indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
On Thursday, Garner's wife told TODAY the jury's action further shook her faith in the legal system.
"From the beginning I had no faith in Staten Island prosecuting anybody from Staten Island," said Esaw Snipes-Garner. "I just didn’t have any type of encouragement. I felt no remorse, no compassion — anything — from Staten Island, besides the people."
But Cuomo said the problem extends further than cases involving Garner or Michael Brown, the unarmed teen killed by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, and other high-profile cases, such as those involving Guinea immigrant Amadou Diallo or Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
"These long series of cases, where people have seen the same type of repeat problem, and they’re saying 'Enough is enough,'" he said. "I actually think we have to reframe this problem and pull back the lens to understand it’s not just about Eric Garner. It's the specific in Eric Garner, but the problem is bigger."
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