Andrew Kearse Hearing – February 1, 2021, 9 pm Eastern
Transcript: Hearing on the Case of Andrew Kearse
- Rapporteur Marjorie Cohn
- Commissioner Mr. Arturo Fournier Facio
- Commissioner Prof. Osamu Niikura
- Ms. Angelique Negroni-Kearse, wife of Andrew Kearse
- Mr Sanford Rubenstein, attorney for the Kearse family
- Mr Cory Dalmata, attorney for the Kearse family
- Mr Ares Davoice, activist
- Mr Hawk Newsome, activist
Marjorie Cohn 00:00
[Welcome to the hearings of the] International Commission of Inquiry on systemic racist police violence against people of African descent in the United States. These hearings are a process by which witnesses can present accounts of the unjustified killings and maimings of Black individuals by police officers in the United States before an international panel of human rights experts. We now begin the hearing in the case of Andrew Pierce. My name is Marjorie Cohn and I am the rapporteur for this hearing. Presiding over the hearing, today, are commissioners Arturo Fournier of Costa Rica, and Commissioner Osamu Niikura of Japan. The witnesses for this hearing are Sanford Rubenstein, Cory Delmata and Angelique Negroni-Kearse, Hawk Newsome and Ares Davoice. There will be 50 minutes for this hearing. Witnesses will testify followed by a period of questions from commissioners. I will call time at the 30 minute mark and the 45 minute mark. Please excuse my interruptions. Commissioners Fournier and Niikura, I now present you the first witness, Sanford Rubenstein, Sanford Rubenstein, please confirm your name.
Sanford Rubenstein 01:27
Marjorie Cohn 01:29
Do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Sanford Rubenstein 01:37
Marjorie Cohn 01:38
You may begin.
Sanford Rubenstein 01:40
My name is Sanford Rubenstein. I am a civil rights lawyer in New York City, who has represented countless victims injured as the result of police brutality and over 20 families who have been killed by police, whose loved ones have been killed by police or died while in the custody of police in New York City in the New York metropolitan area. my testimony today is with regard to the wrongful death of Andrew Kearse at age 36, who became unresponsive while in the backseat of a Schenectady police squad car and died of a heart attack. Dash camera footage shows him pleading for help 70 times in 17 minutes from the backseat of a squad car. I would now like to ask for the dash cam video segments of it to be made a part of this record.
Sanford Rubenstein 05:45
Thank you. We completed the playing of the excerpts?
Charlotte Kates 05:58
Yes, that was all four of the excerpts together.
Sanford Rubenstein 06:02
All right. Thank you. I will continue my testimony then. And that was only excerpts of what, Angelique corrected me, 45 minutes 70 times, I can’t breathe. The death of Andrew Kearse was the subject of a criminal investigation by the attorney general’s office in New York. Based on the governor’s executive order, giving the Attorney General criminal jurisdiction in matters involving deaths while in police custody of unarmed individuals. The Attorney General’s Office presented to a grand jury convened with regard to this matter, evidence and the grand jury declined charges the attorney general’s office in their report. And I want to say apparently that it is very important for prosecutors when a grand jury does not indict or there is no presentation to a grand jury, to present the report of their findings to the public, so that if no criminal action results or no criminal action is taken with regard to a death while in police custody, the agency, which is the prosecutorial agency, has the opportunity to explain to the public their views with regard to this matter. In their report, the Attorney General’s Office concluded regardless of the grand jury’s decision, Mr. Kearse’s death was a tragedy that never should have happened and reforms must be made to prevent similar tragedies in the future.
After his death, the widow of Andrew Kearse, Angelica Kearse, who will be testifying today began a campaign urging state and federal governments to enact reforms to prevent similar future tragedies. To that end, in part, her campaign so far has been successful. And the Andrew Kearse Act was signed into law in New York State, which requires law enforcement offices to seek care for any person in their custody experience experiencing a medical episode. On a federal level, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Ayanna Presley, have introduced the Andrew Kearse accountability for denial of medical care act to hold law enforcement officers nationwide criminally liable for failing to obtain medical assistance for people in custody, experiencing medical distress. I might add that New York Senator Gillibrand has joined us as a sponsor of that bill. This statute is presently before Congress, and we urge those who are watching and listening to contact their congressmen and senators to urge the passage of this act. In addition, a civil action for damages for wrongful death was filed in this matter. It was settled and as the Press reported for $1.3 million in damages. I’d now like to introduce Cory Delmata, my local co-counsel who can reflect on his experience with this case, Cory?
Marjorie Cohn 09:24
Yes, I would like to swear the witness please. Cory Delmata, please confirm your name.
Cory Delmata 09:30
Marjorie Cohn 09:31
Cory Delmata, do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Cory Delmata 09:40
Marjorie Cohn 09:41
You may proceed.
Cory Delmata 09:43
All right, as Mr. Rubenstein did indicate, my name is Cory Delmata. We served as local co counsel in regards to this matter. Our office is in Schenectady, New York where this unfortunate incident occurred. I think what made this this matter particularly gruesome, and In light of everything there, besides the video footage that was available in relation to everything is that there’s a direct order of the Schenectady police department that requires that anyone that requires medical ima- medical emergency, after anything more than a unresisted handcuffing, any time force is utilized in terms of making an arrest, if there’s any indication of any type of medical emergency, that medical assistance should be provided. Clearly in relation to this matter that wasn’t done. And as Miss Kearse previously stated, and Mr. Rubenstein addressed, there was 45 minutes of a medical emergency that went on, and was completely disregarded. Instead of bringing this individual to the local hospital, which was approximately eight minutes away from where the incident occurred, he was transported to the Schenectady police department. Ambulances weren’t called, the local fire department weren’t called, no EMTs were called.
Mr. Kearse’s cries and cries for assistance, were simply disregarded. Part of that was what was testified to by the Schenectady police officer officer Mark Weeks, in relation to this matter, was his incorrect assumption that if somebody could speak, they could breathe and that there was no medical condition and there was no medical emergency prevalent in this situation. That clearly wasn’t the case, that clearly wasn’t accurate in regards to the discovery, and the training, depositions that were done in relation to this matter, any of the questioning, and it was clearly clear that that was never instructed to any officers at any point in time, that training was never, no one took credit for any giving anyone that training. But all of the officers were of the mindset that if somebody could speak, they didn’t have any type of emergency, and they weren’t having any issue breathing, which Mr. Kearse was having a problem with. I think one of the prior presenters that I had just had the benefit of seeing, talked about the fact that they are required to obtain independent medical examinations in relation to the autopsies, we were required to do the same in relation to this matter. And I think that was part of the issue in terms of why when the matter was presented to the grand jury, there wasn’t indict, there was not an indictment. And that was because the medical testimony that was provided to the grand jury indicated that you wouldn’t, the normal individual, the normal officer wouldn’t be able to determine that Mr. Kearse was undergoing a medical emergency and required care.
It just clearly wasn’t the case. And our medical expert that we retained in relation to matter did did indicate that you would have been able to tell that Mr., you should have been able to tell that Mr. Kearse was in a dire situation here. And if that was treated promptly, as it should have been pursuant to the Schenectady, Schenectady Police Department’s own orders, his life would have been saved. And not only what his life has been saved, but there was a 78 to 80% chance that he wouldn’t have suffered any type of brain injury or anything of that nature. So the matter just was not attended to in the appropriate fashion by the Schenectady police department. My understanding of what I’m doing here today was to to more answer questions, if anyone has them about how the case proceeded, or the individuals or the intricacies of the matter. And I’d be happy to do so. But I think Mr. Rubenstein did cover the majority of the case and I think Miss Kearse will provide you a more personal touches to to what this loss sustained. So I thank you for your time.
Sanford Rubenstein 13:48
Thank you. I would now like to ask Angelique Kearse. Are we back on? Hello? Are we back on air?
Marjorie Cohn 13:58
Yes, we are.
Sanford Rubenstein 13:59
But I’d like to ask Angelique Kearse, the widow of the victim in this case, Andrew Kearse, who has been a role model for victims and victims’ families fighting for change. So what happened to this victim will never happen again to any other victim. She’s been a role model that we will be proud of. Angelique?
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 14:20
Marjorie Cohn 14:21
Angelique. I would like to swear you first. Okay. Angelique Negroni-Kearse. Please confirm your name.
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 14:29
My name is Angelique Negroni-Kearse.
Marjorie Cohn 14:32
Do you promise that your testimony to the commission of inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 14:39
Marjorie Cohn 14:41
You may begin.
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 14:44
First of all, I want to let you know that, to the Commission, I am not a victim. I am a survivor. And I want you guys to understand that each and every one of us that goes through our loved ones being killed or injured or anything like that, not only they hurt our loved ones, they kill our loved ones, but they also damage, PTSD, depression and anxiety. And I also have to raise seven children without my husband, four of them which is at the age of, under the age of 10, which I had with my husband, and he would help me, I have to raise three young boys without that, and to try to do daddy stuff and to also how to interact with officers because I’m scared that it might happen to them. And it shouldn’t be that way. It shouldn’t be that these officers get just get away with just killing our loved ones and murder and no, no repercussions or anything. I always say this, this is my slogan. If you want a life of crime with no jail time, just be a cop. And it shouldn’t even be that way. My husband should should be be here. It took 70 times within 17 minutes him begging, literally begging for his life. And officer Mark Weeks did nothing. He was like a serial killer with no empathy and you still have this man on the job. Previously before this happened to Andrew, this the officer Mark Weeks, he was attacked by an MMA fighter and he got injured. He stated after he got injured that he could not be around anybody, that he was scared for his life. You, and they still had him on the job. This is one of his testimony stating that that’s why he he didn’t help Andrew.
If you still have this man still on this job, what makes you think he might hurt another innocent person or take off his gun and kill somebody and you still have him on the job. The whole Schenectady police department is so messed up. The FBI had a criminal case against them with a 10 year background of them into investigating them, because they’re all messed up. If you see at the end of the of my husband passing away, he died one minute before he before he got to the police station. As he gets out of the car, and he’s unconscious and gone already. The captain goes to officer Mark Weeks and tells them what happened. Officer Mark Weeks, in his own words states that he was doing that I can’t breathe thing all the way here. All he had to do was call the ambulance. And my husband would be here, a 36 year old man gone in the blink of an eye. I was with my husband 11 years, 10 years married. This wasn’t just somebody just to throw away like his garbage and he’s nothing. He was somebody. He was somebody and we had family and children together that miss him that I got to, I got to raise without, without him. It’s unfair. Why officer Mark Weeks gets to live his life, get married and walk down the aisle, open a business and and and still be on the job and no repercussions not even him get off the force? It’s wrong.
I finally I was fighting for over three years and am still fighting to answer, to be heard because like I said, he begged and pleaded for his life and it shouldn’t be. I got his law passed here in in June, called the Andrew Kearse act, with Assemblywoman Natalia Fernandez, that states that if anybody is held accountable, that states they can’t breathe, that the officers any police, will be held accountable and get a civil act. I fight it so hard. I ended up going to Elizabeth Warren and Ayanna Presley and have them put into Congress, into the Senate, stating that that which is the Andrew Kearse Accountability, Denial Accountability Act, which it went on Congress floor and they got read twice and is referred to the committee. That was on June 18 2020. Finally, after three years, Chief Eric Clifford called me on October 22, to state that he publicly announced that he was sorry and that they were wrong. It took three years for him to give me a call to state that he was sorry, but he still wasn’t firing officer Mike Weeks. How is that? I want some accountability. I want some justice. And I need it not only for me, but for his children. Because at the end of the day, when my children get older, I have to sit down. I have to play that dash cam and that they need to see what happened to their father. Thank you and justice for Andrew Kearse.
Marjorie Cohn 19:57
Ms. Negroni Kearse. I’m so sorry for the loss of your husband and I want to thank you for your brave testimony before this commission and I congratulate you on the victories that you’ve achieved with legislation and I wish you luck with your with the future legislation. Thank you.
Sanford Rubenstein 20:15
We next have Hawk Newsome and Ares Davoice, both activists who have been involved in bringing public attention to what happened. Hawk Newsome?
Marjorie Cohn 20:28
Hawk Newsome I would like to swear you in.
Cory Delmata 20:37
I don’t see him as a attendee.
Sanford Rubenstein 20:41
Alright, if he’s not with us, then we’ll go right to Ares Davoice to address, Davoice.
Ares Davoice 20:48
Okay, can you hear me?
Marjorie Cohn 20:50
Yes, sir. Mr. Davoice, I would like to swear you in please. Ares Davoice, please confirm your name.
Ares Davoice 21:00
My name is, my alias is Ares Davoice. My legal name is Michael Nightingale.
Marjorie Cohn 21:06
Do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief? Yes, I do. You may begin.
Ares Davoice 21:18
Okay, as you view on the dash cam, you’ve noticed the lack of empathy. Um, one thing that we’ve been fighting for was basically full accountability. Now, I have my testimony starts when I originally saw Mrs. Angelique Negroni-Kearse’s cry for help on Facebook, she put it out on Facebook. She was looking for help because her husband had been done wrong that she felt. So with that being said, I reached out to her. And I got her in contact with with Hawk Newsome. And with that, she started to fight herself. She started making phone calls, trying to get in contact with people. As Sanford Rubenstein said, She’s a fighter. And she, as you see, she’s still fighting. she’s a warrior. And we saw this, and she’s continued to fight. But within this fight, one thing that we saw, and this is my testimony is speaking on certain things that she didn’t get a chance to speak on, or just elaborate more. The wrongdoing done by the Schenectady police department, and it seems to be the apparent, try to cover up of such things is the worst things that been going through. As far as this whole process, we’ve been getting absolutely no kind of help with the Schenectady police department. And I don’t know whether it’s an upstate thing, or, and because we’re in the city and they’re upstate, we don’t know what it is. But there hasn’t even been help, or I don’t know, for the jurisdiction thing, but they don’t seem to even want to help this woman. So with that being said, like she said, we started working with Natalia Fernandez, and getting a lot of signatures and trying to just raise cause because if you see the dash cam, which she posted the dash cam, but I want her to post it again. And the full dash cam gives you a full detailed aspect of what really happened.
And that’s why I want you guys to really view it because then you can see the neglect. And it’s pretty obvious. And so when you see this dash cam, and you see how neglectful this officer was to the point where at one point in time, when he just acted roll down the windows, he said he couldn’t breathe, the officer wouldn’t even roll down the window. If you view this. If you view the dash cam as I said, the officer wouldn’t even roll down a window. You can watch, you literally watch a man die in the back of a cop car. And that’s why the dash cam is so important and why it should have been released way sooner because it shows the lack of empathy. It took until after the cops pretty much had a little powwow before the defibrillator was even on, decided to be put on this man. And this was already after he had already been passed, he was already gone. Um, this is all the way at the end of the dash cam. You see them drag him out of the car, and he’s on the street. And then that’s when they start to apply the defibrillator.
As Angie also stated, Mark has a history of prior misconduct with the MMA fighter when she said he was scared for his life. So one thing we’re also trying to figure out is what’s connected to the police department is, how was it for one that he’s allowed to still be on the job during these times? And also, why is it that while this proceedings in this case was going on, why is it that he was allowed to start a bus company and still provide his family with even more additional income while still just being on leave not being suspended just being on paid leave. And while this woman is still suffering. So it’s a lot of questions that we were trying to figure out from this, connected with the police department. And they not helping us with anything. So and, and not only that, not only that afterwards the Schenectady police department went out, went out of their way to actually put out more news to try to make Mark Weeks look like he’s a good standing citizen about him helping things in the community. So they’re obviously trying to make sure that the image of this man is good, because I guess they want to help the police department. But we’re trying to get justice and if what, so that’s why we’re trying to figure out how is it that we’re allowed to? Why is it that we’re not allowed to be able to present some kind of way of showing the negligence and accountability for police officers when they want accountability from us just as law abiding citizens? And that’s pretty much my testimony. If you look at the dashcam, again, you see completely the lack of empathy. And just as, as a law abiding citizen, our question is to you guys, if you just look at this, just not even as a cop, just as a regular person, would you have given this man help, even if this man was a criminal when I’m wanting to talk about his record, but even if this man was a criminal, if you look at this dashcam, would you ask yourself, would you at least say, you know what, as a human being? Maybe this guy might need help? And if the answer is yes, then I say, please give this woman, Angelique, and her kids help. And please help us get justice as we’re trying to push these laws forward. Thank you very much.
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 26:43
I’m sorry. Can I can I also say something to the commission?
Marjorie Cohn 26:47
Yes, go right ahead.
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 26:49
Yeah, I suggest that you know, how you guys have like an impact statement. Like when when when somebody is getting sentenced, and you have the family member have like an impact statement after you know, but that I suggest that everybody or family of all survivors, they need to confront the officers, especially if you have a dash cam. We need to sit down with the officers to explain to to us what happened, why you did that. I want to sit down and I want to break it down to him and say, Look, this is what happened. What happened because at the end of the day, I have to explain all this to my children. I need to see all sides of the story. I’m sorry. It’s very hard.
Marjorie Cohn 27:38
That’s, that’s very helpful. Thank you so much. Now, Mr. Rubinstein, did you want to continue your testimony or do you want to questions from the commissioners?
Sanford Rubenstein 27:51
We’re ready for questions.
Marjorie Cohn 27:54
I just want to say that it’s the 28 minute mark. We have 15 minutes for the hearing. Commissioners, do you have questions for the witnesses?
Cory Delmata 28:08
I do note that Mr. Newsome did just sign on. I don’t know.
Hawk Newsome 28:13
Hello, how are you? I’m totally Sorry. I’m in Houston. And I didn’t realize that I’ve, the timezone difference just confused me. I apologize. I’m snowed in here in Houston. I couldn’t get back to the city today. So I’ll be happy to testify that I’m still permitted.
Marjorie Cohn 28:31
Mr. Newsome we’re happy to have you here and we certainly would love to hear your testimony. But I would just like to swear you in first.
Hawk Newsome 28:38
Marjorie Cohn 28:42
Hawk Newsome please confirm your name.
Hawk Newsome 28:46
I am Walter L. Newsome, Jr. Also known as Hawk Newsome,
Marjorie Cohn 28:52
You promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Hawk Newsome 28:59
Marjorie Cohn 29:00
You may begin.
Hawk Newsome 29:04
I’m sure that the people who came before me have done more than enough to shed light on these issues. But from an activist, from an organizers, organizers perspective, and also as someone who holds a law degree, I believe that I hope that I can offer some insight that would shine a light on what we’re facing here in the streets, as protesters as activists. I’d just like to state that what I’m seeing in New York City alone, this summer, it can be likened to protests during the time of Martin Luther King. That can be likened to Selma, where I’ve seen personally people whose skulls were fractured who had bones broken while American politicians going on the news and tell you that they have, they’re sympathetic toward the cause of Black people and all other oppressed people due to police brutality, the police departments that they control are actually out in our communities, terrorizing people. To speak directly to the death of Andrew Kearse, this case was unique to me, because it there was a lot of, I got to put this the public relations that had to be implemented in promoting this case to the public, and gathering attention.
Americans have this sense of believing that if a person is a certain type of person, then they deserve a particular type of punishment of policing. So what we have is a man who had a criminal past, right, a man who, by normal standards, standards wasn’t necessarily the greatest human being. And it’s easy for society, to look at people who are victims of circumstance and say that, hey, you know what, they deserve this, or in Andrew Kearse’s case where he ran from the police, people will say something to you, like, Whoa, don’t resist, listen to what the police have to say, and these things won’t happen to you. So part one of this, the public relations side was Andrew Kearse wasn’t a good person. So as an activist, we had to form a narrative around this case that made people feel sympathy towards someone that America would tell them not to feel sympathy for. So the work of Andrew Kearse, Andrew Kearse’s widow is phenomenal. I’ve worked with a lot of people, but you will never find a more motivated person in fighting for justice for their loved one. Not to knock anyone but she’s just always been gung ho, about justice for her husband. So you had Andrew Kearse’s history. So the approach that we take took when introducing Andrews case to the media was okay, Andrew did A, B, C, and D. However, he did not deserve to die like this, right.
And it’s hard, because you shouldn’t have to make Americans feel sympathy for someone who died in the back of a police car after screaming for help 70 times in 17 minutes. There shouldn’t be a precursor for that, that sympathy should come naturally. However, we are taught that Black men are dangerous. Black men and women should not receive the requisite sympathy that you would bestow upon a white person in America. So that was really unique, when we talk about public relations and how we introduced this case, to the media. The second part of it was strategic activism. What Black Lives Matter Greater New York does is we like to take a legal approach and working that’s working with attorneys like renowned civil rights attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, as well as a street approach, which, which, you know, what looks like marching in the streets. And we did a lot of both, from advocating with the Attorney General to prosecute this case, to numerous protests around the city. And it was hard garnering support in New York City, because the case happened in upstate New York. So we fundraise as an organization, we fundraised and took a trip up to Schenectady, New York. This is not a play for money. We had a very good year last year, but a lot of people don’t understand what it takes to move people from one place to another. You’re talking about transportation costs, you’re talking about over $1,000 in posters, so to people get to see what’s happening. You’re talking about uniforms and clothing so that people can can see us looking, you know, uniformed and and together in this movement. So we actually went up to Schenectady, New York. It made some noise to alert the community as to what officer Mark Weeks did to Andrew Kearse. And what that looked like was us organizing with BLM groups from upstate New York, BLM Rochester, BLM Syracuse, other churches and other organizations like that. And we led them march, we actually marched to the precinct and went inside and held a rally inside the precinct.
A lot of things a culmination of events led to us applying pressure in the media that would in turn apply pressure to the government of Schenectady, which also apply pressure to the state of New York as a whole. And what people care about more than giving, just what American politicians care about more than giving justice to Black people, is looking bad in the media. At least the Democrats do, you know, on, in, the civil rights arena. So there was a shame campaign launched against the Schenectady police department, you know, a lot of things that were done. As you probably heard already, the Andrew Kearse Act was came about in a think tank of sorts, where we went into a New York Public School, it was a group of activists sitting with educators and teachers, and Angelique Negroni-Kearse came up with the idea for the Andrew Kearse act. This is as we set planning a youth march, we actually had two youth marches, where we highlighted the death of Andrew Kearse. And that looking like that look like bringing the widow to the schools, setting up a platform for her so that she can tell children in the Bronx, what happened to her husband. And then what we did with those children was we taught them how to organize a rally everything from media, to logistics, to outreach to politicians and other organizations to holding the march, messaging, you name it, these are beautiful experiences. It’s a shame that we have to teach Black and brown children, how to rally for, how it’s a shame that educators have to bring us into schools to teach children how to rally against racism and state sanctioned murder, murders.
And we’ve done this in over 200 schools in New York, okay, and up and down the Northeast section of the United States of America. So these are just some of our efforts. And these efforts yield a result, they yield a result. And when you’re organized, and you know, you’re you’re you’re concise, and you’re strategic about your actions, you get calls from people in the government. So as we all know, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, when she was running, trying to get elected to Congress the first time, Black Lives Matter Greater New York was the first organization in New York City to endorse her run. She wanted to stand with us, we say you have to come out and attend one of those youth marches and say that your advocate for the Andrew Kearse Act. This is how this would, her participation was contingent, upon educate, advocating for Andrew Kearse. I’m not going to take up much more of your time. But when it comes down to a strategic activism, Black Lives Matter Greater New York has moved in a different direction. We no longer work with victims unless they reach out to us directly.
We’re busy building systems through an organization called Black Opportunities that will uplift and empower Black communities. That’s where we are right now. We feel as though there is no help coming from the government. I repeat, there is no help coming from the American government and its politicians regardless of if they are Democrats or Republicans. Both parties have proven to fail us. So um, you know, here we sit. We’ve been successful. We’ve had five laws passed in four years. And one of those that we worked on was the Andrew Kearse Act and when the country was on fire, Governor Andrew Cuomo called us and asked, What can we do to ease the tension? What can we do to defuse this situation? We gave him a list of 20 pieces of legislation. And he came back with four. he conceded on four, and one of those was the Andrew Kearse act not saying that it was all us. I’m just saying it. Angelica Negroni-Kearse led the charge. And we did our part as activists to support her. There’s been speeches given across the world of lifting Andrews name, and we continue to uplift his name in most of the projects we do. Thank you for your time. Respectfully.
Marjorie Cohn 40:35
Thank you so much, Mr. Newsome for that testimony and the highlighting the strategic activism which you just did, you can’t stress how important that is – can’t under stress it. Thank you. Would any other witnesses like to follow up? Or should we move to questions by commissioners? We now have nine minutes left in the hearing.
Sanford Rubenstein 41:06
We can move to questions.
Marjorie Cohn 41:07
Okay. Okay. commissioners Fournier and Niikura. Would you like to ask questions of the witnesses now?
Arturo Fournier Facio 41:16
Yes, please. Thank you. First of all, my deepest condolences to Mrs. Negroni-Kearsee on her loss, and especially thinking about the children as she said, my sympathy to you. I have a couple of questions to you, Mrs. Negroni-Kearse? How did you find out about what had happened to your husband?
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 41:52
My husband, he died on May 11 2017 on a Thursday, I didn’t get to find out to the next day. And the only reason why I found out and these are the exact words from his sister, his sister called me, stating he was like, excuse my language, but these were her exact words. She said, Is it true? My brother’s fucking dead? And I’m like, What? So then I hung up on her. And then I had another friend call me and say, um, you heard about Champagne. They used to call him Champagne. And I’m like, What? And I hung up on her. And then his, his mother, his mother and Scruff and Jean, she calls me and she says, Angie, this is what happened to Andrew. And then I was with my, our little girl at the time, and I’m on 100 and 61st. And I started screaming and bugging out and people’s crying, looking at me like I’m crazy. Like, what happened? So then I ended up calling that the calling, the medical Schenectady medical department, and then finding out they told me I had to wait for the medical examiner to to call me. And she she ends up calling me and then she tells me that then Andrew’s gone. And that, that then she’s gonna do an autopsy. No, she already did an autopsy. And I’m like, you already did an autopsy how you did an autopsy and I’m his next of kin, and I didn’t even give you permission for that. And she said, there’s no bruising, and I’m like, it’s only been a day and there’s no bruising. So right then and there. I thought it was kind of fishy and what she was telling me. So I said right then and there, I need, I need a lawyer. I need to find out what really happened to him.
Arturo Fournier Facio 43:41
You didn’t go to the police precinct?
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 43:44
No, they didn’t let me. I asked her, do I need to go up there to ID and he said, No, you don’t need to come up here to ID him. He’d been already ID’d by his fingerprints. So I didn’t know he was really going into, I seen him a month later. And I was at the funeral home because I couldn’t ID him or nothing. And that’s when I really knew in reality that that he was gone. The whole month I kept pinching myself to wake myself up to say, you’ll get out of this nightmare. This is just a nightmare. And you get out it’s not it’s not real. It’s not real, until I seen him in the funeral home.
Arturo Fournier Facio 44:21
So it was at a funeral home that you were sure for what has happened.
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 44:26
Yes, And when I seen him at the funeral home, I saw bruising on his hands. I seen him you know he was, it was him but not him. And when I see, first seen him, my mother and my brother came to see me. They said I let out of a screech that they never heard before because she they sounded like my my heart broke. And it did and it’s been broken. It’s an empty hole that I can never fill, refill. I’m sorry.
Arturo Fournier Facio 45:02
Of course, you may cry. Of course, you have all the right to do so.
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 45:14
And yet, he was locked up for two years before he came home. He came home, only lasted 15 days and then got killed. Okay. So it’s like me and the kids are still waiting for him. Before before he got locked up, our little girl, her name was Buttercup. Her real name is Serenity. I he didn’t get to see her born. He didn’t get to see her first birthday. And then when he said, Oh, Angie, I’m coming out on her second birthday. I’m not gonna I’m not gonna miss nothing. And he got killed May 11. Her birthday was May 25. She will never be a daddy’s girl. She will never walk down that aisle. She will never she will never see her daddy, or she knows him as a picture. And that’s my fight for the most, is her. Because she didn’t deserve none of that. My other children knew their dad, but she didn’t.
Arturo Fournier Facio 46:07
Yes. And you will miss him forever. All your family. A second. I’m going to switch for a question to attorney Delmata. You said there was a 45 minutes of medical emergency. But the hospital was eight minutes away. Could you explain a little bit about this, please? Sure.
Cory Delmata 46:33
As soon as the officers interacted with Mr. Kearse and and got him began bringing him back to the police cruiser. He couldn’t walk. And he indicated to them that he couldn’t walk, that he couldn’t get to his feet. There was a brief chase involved before he was taken into custody. At that point in time it took three officers to carry him to the vehicle. They then carried him to the vehicle. Once he’s gotten once he got into the vehicle, the officers put them into the vehicle, regrouped, then took him back to the the initial instance of where the brief flight began. At that point in time, he was in the vehicle there. And I think I don’t have the exact numbers right in front of me. But I think it was 17 minutes that he was that they were at that address before they then proceeded to the Schenectady police department.
And it was approximately 10 to 12 minutes of travel time from the police department through, from the the place where they brought them back with the incident originally occurred, to the police department, that the hospital was closer in. This area is connected to, the hospital was closer than the, than the police department. At any point in time during the interaction between the Schenectady police department and Mr. Kearse through their own general orders, it was clear that this is more than then an unrestrained handcuffing, and through their own orders, they should have reached out for medical assistance. If they would have done so, all the medical testimony indicates that if he would have gotten medical assistance immediately, or even at any point in time, up to if you watch the entire video, there is a portion of it where he does slump over. And I think the general consensus is that’s where he loses all consciousness at that point in time. And that’s kind of the point of no return. Prior to that point, all the medical testimony is that he would have at least been saved. And again, that’s approximately 35 minutes into this whole interaction. So there’s there’s plenty of time where he could have received emergency medical assistance and this could have all been avoided.
Marjorie Cohn 49:01
Unfortunately, we only have one minute remaining. I think we have time for one further question. If one of the commissioners would like to ask one last question.
Arturo Fournier Facio 49:11
Yes, please. The last one. I had several but the last one to to Mr. Newsome. You spoke about the the act with his name, was it passed or you proposed it?
Hawk Newsome 49:29
It was passed. It was passed in portion. It wasn’t to the extent that we originally envisioned that when we drafted it, when we worked on it when we advocated for it. But you know, that’s the name of this game. They’ll never give you what you want. They’ll just give you enough that the government, the politicians will just give you enough to pacify you. They’ll never give you complete justice. They’ll just give you a small portion of what you’re asking for.
Sanford Rubenstein 49:57
If I may give some clarity it was passed in New York state as a state. However, the federal statute, which is called the the Andrew Kearse accountability for the denial of medical care act, is presently pending before Congress. And I urge anyone who reads this transcript or hears this hearing to contact their local US Senator or Congressperson and urge them to pass this act.
Marjorie Cohn 50:24
Thank you to all the witnesses in this hearing. This concludes the hearing in the case of Andrew Kearse. Hearings will resume tomorrow. Thank you.
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 50:35
Cory Delmata 50:36
Thank you very much.
Hawk Newsome 50:37
Thank you very much.
Angelique Negroni-Kearse 50:39
It was a traffic violation that he got that he got. He got out, he wasn’t a bad guy. It was over a red light. This he died over a red light, okay? He wasn’t a bad guy. He wasn’t.
Marjorie Cohn 50:56
Thank you very much. Thank you for testifying.