Shem Walker Hearing – February 4, 2021, 2 pm Eastern
Transcript: Hearing on the Case of Shem Walker
- Rapporteur Marjorie Cohn
- Commissioner Sir Clare Roberts
- Commissioner Prof. Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France
- Mr. Sanford Rubenstein, attorney for the family
- Rev. Kevin McCall, rights advocate
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 Shem Walker. My name is Marjorie Cohn and I am the rapporteur for this hearing. Presiding over this hearing are commissioners Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France of France, and Commissioner Sir Clare Roberts of Antigua and Barbuda. The witness for this hearing is Sanford Rubenstein. There will be 50 minutes for this hearing. The witness 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 forgive my interruptions, commissioners Fanon-Mendes-France and Roberts, I now present you the witness Sanford Rubenstein, Sanford Rubinstein please confirm your name.
Sanford Rubenstein 01:18
Marjorie Cohn 01:20
Do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Sanford Rubenstein 01:27
Marjorie Cohn 01:29
You may begin.
Sanford Rubenstein 01:30
My name is Sanford Rubenstein. I am a civil rights lawyer in New York City, who has represented countless victims injured and over 20 families with loved ones as a result of excessive force used by police police brutality in the city of New York and the New York metropolitan area. I am testifying today about the wrongful death of Shem Walker, who was killed by an undercover New York City Police Department detective in front of his mother’s home in Brooklyn, New York. It was a quiet Saturday evening in Brooklyn with Army veteran Shem Walker visited his 75 year old mother in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. The 49 year old father of two routinely checked on her and made sure she was safe and well taken care of at all times. Little did his mother know that this would be the last time her son would walk through her door. Being a former serviceman in the army, Mr. Walker’s sworn oath to serve and protect, he undertook this duty not only for his country, but for his community and family as well. He took it upon himself to keep his loved one secure in that Brooklyn neighborhood that was often riddled with drug trade, and would often risked his life just to tell a potentially dangerous individual to leave the premises in front of his mother’s home or on the stoop in front of her home
On July 11 2009, the day was no different. Except this time, his encounter with an unknown individual turned out to be an undercover police detective in plainclothes who does not did not identify himself as a police officer. According to police accounts, the undercover officer who was working in an anti drug operation was sitting on the stoop of Mr. Walker’s building. Another officer whether it was his mother’s building, another officer in street clothes was outside the building next door at 368 Lafayette Avenue. They were working as ghosts, please parlance for undercover officers whose job is to provide backup for another officer who’s doing what they call buy-and-bust work. In this case, the third officer was in front of a bodega two doors away. Residents had complained about drug dealing and there was a recent shooting nearby. The police had made three arrests in the neighborhood before the events that led to Mr. Walker’s death. The undercover detective never revealed himself as a police officer to Mr. Walker, before drawing his gun and firing three shots, killing Mr. Walker on the sidewalk in front of his mother’s home.
While the city eventually reached a $2.25 million settlement for the benefit of his family, the detective who killed him was never criminally charged. The civil suit for damages was one based on negligence for wrongful death. The negligence as stated in the complaint filed in court consisted of the following improperly and carelessly initiating a confrontation with Shem Walker, which was without probable cause and unwarranted under all the circumstances and violation of restrictions and commonly accepted practices of the New York City Police Department. In improperly engaging in the use and discharge of a firearm and shooting numerous shots and striking Shem Walker numerous times and improperly carelessly and recklessly using physical force in connection with the unwarranted confrontation with Shem Walker in violating the restrictions and commonly accepted practices of the New York City Police Department, and it is alleged the incident was further caused by the systematic failures of the protocols utilized in similar situations by the detective and failing to create and enforce guidelines and rules of the New York City Police Department governing the conduct of officers while utilizing their firearms.
And while we understand monetary damages can give a family some closure, no amount of money can make up for the loss of an innocent life that was taken at the hands of a New York City Police Department undercover detectives, the community will never forget schirmacher fan service, nor will they forget the negligent actions of detectives who robbed the Brooklyn community of one of its beloved citizens. I would not like to take a moment to ask for the production of a photograph I have provided the commission, which was taken at a rally in which I was speaking not long after the killing of Shem Walker, can we produce the photograph please? Can we produce the photograph please? Well, since we can’t produce it, I’m going to hold up what I want it to have produced and explain to you what it contains. You see in the photograph. me speaking at the podium. Oh, there it is, okay, so you see me speaking at the podium. To my left is then City Councilwoman Letitia James. Now the Attorney General of New York State. To my right is then City Councilman Bill de Blasio, now Mayor of the City of New York. Next to him. You see, Hakeem Jeffries, a former New York State Assemblyman at the time, now United States Congressman, in a position of leadership in the House of Representatives. Behind congressman Jeffries, you see Kirsten Foy civil rights activist at the time, Reverend Kirsten Foy, a civil rights activist at the time and behind Foy,is civil rights leader Reverend Kevin McCall. Both McCall and Foy, were young activists, when this picture was taken, and are now seasoned civil rights activists in New York City.
You cannot underestimate the importance of civil rights activists and elected officials becoming involved and advocating for victims and victims’ families who were wrongfully killed by police. The police have their unions, and some of their leaders are extremely outspoken in their advocacy for police who caused the death of innocent victims. Victims and their families need civil rights activists and elected officials to give balance to the advocacy from police union leaders at what I call the trial before the trial in the court of public opinion. As this concludes my testimony, I would now like to introduce one of those who was in that photograph 11 years ago, Reverend Kevin McCall pictured in the photograph and for 12 years, and for years before that as well. In fighting for justice for the wrongful death of victims of police brutality. Today, a respected leader in civil rights as an activist in his own right. In New York City, Reverend Kevin McCall.
Marjorie Cohn 08:44
Reverend Kevin McCall. Please confirm your name. Reverend McCall. Are you on the line? We don’t seem to have Reverend McCall with us yet.
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France 09:18
There is a message saying Reverend McCall is not present at this time.
Marjorie Cohn 09:28
Mr. Rubenstein, would you like to continue until Reverend McCall joins us?
Sanford Rubenstein 09:33
Well, we can start taking questions and I continue with those questions. And hopefully he’ll jump in. as the civil rights leader Hawk Newsome, who joined us somewhat into the presentation at a prior testimony in a case.
Marjorie Cohn 09:55
Very well. commissioners Fanon-Mendes-France and Roberts would you like I’d like to ask questions of Mr. Rubenstein at this time.
Sanford Rubenstein 10:04
I believe Reverend McCall has now joined.
Marjorie Cohn 10:09
Reverend McCall, are you there?
Kevin McCall 10:12
Yes, I am.
Marjorie Cohn 10:13
Yes, Kevin McCall. Please confirm your name.
Kevin McCall 10:18
Sure, Reverend Kevin McCall.
Marjorie Cohn 10:21
Do you promise that your testimony to the Commission of Inquiry will be true to the best of your knowledge and belief?
Kevin McCall 10:28
Marjorie Cohn 10:29
You may begin.
Kevin McCall 10:33
Thank you to everyone, for joining today, to hear a conversation and a discussion in regards to a case that definitely should receive the justice that it should have gotten regarding the family of Shem Walker. I was, as Mr. Rubenstein has stated, and shown a picture. I was a young activist 18 years old. When I heard the story about what happened to him, Walker, Shem Walker’s story has touched my heart in a million ways to one. And I had to be able to do some thing as an activist. I had to be able to organize the people. I had to be able to organize people to support the family and their fight for justice. So we organize over 500 people within days. And we marched, screaming, no justice, no peace. We took over the Brooklyn Bridge. We blocked traffic. And we continue to raise our voice on the behalf of Shem Walker. At that particular time, we were under administration where the police did anything and everything that they want to do. We didn’t have a any we didn’t have any Blacks, any African Americans that were in place inside the police department. We didn’t have any one that can be able to tell a story about African Americans being gunned down and hurt by the police department. The police, at that time, had a policy of killing and shooting unarmed men without no recourse.
There was nothing that was in place, you had the anti Crime Unit, all over the place in the city going rogue. And the people in New York City had given up hope at this particular time. But they found hope. When they saw us screaming and yelling, no justice, no peace and justice for Shem Walker. We were able to get some things done in his name. We even got a street passed in his name. To be able to make sure that his legacy stands forever, for generations to come. As we move forward, as we continue to fight for those who don’t have a voice anymore. And to fight for the Shem Walkers of tomorrow. We must continue to never forget those who are impacted. Thank God that we are moving in the direction of police being held responsible for the misconduct that they do on a daily basis. We have a long road ahead to get there. But the good thing about it is that we are in a conversation. And we are now at the table of making change. George Floyd had to happen. Breonna Taylor had to happen for the world to listen. And now they are listening. They are watching and things have happened and changes are being made. We have a long, long way to go. But I believe that we’re going in the right direction that can change what we see today. And what we saw yesterday with Shem Walker. Thank you for this opportunity to present you today.
Marjorie Cohn 14:50
Thank you Reverend McCall. Would the commissioners like to ask questions of Mr. Rubenstein or Reverend McCall at this time?
Sir Clare Roberts 15:03
I’d like to ask both gentlemen, when Reverend McCall indicated that he saw some changes, that change is happening, the table and so on. What are the changes in equity just sort of less the changes that he’s seeing that is causing him to be so optimistic?
Kevin McCall 15:31
I’m seeing in New York City, you have African Americans that are now at the table. And high ranks in the police department, you have a Black chief of detectives, you have a black chief of Community Affairs, you have a Black chief of patrol, which never happened in the city before. Now being that they Black, that doesn’t mean that the problem is not going to exist. But being that they now have a voice to understand what Black and brown people go through with the police, says that we can be able to overcome and look for the changes. Being that they are now at the table, we have gotten rid of a unit called the anti Crime Unit, the same unit that harass Shem Walker, and the same unit down harass Eric Garner, the same unit that harass Saheed Vassell. So being that they are now at the table, change has been made.
Sir Clare Roberts 16:44
Any concrete changes, for instance, independence? Independent investigation of police killings, has that improved the lack of culpability, the lack of the justice system, convicting persons who not sometimes not even charged, not even indicted? What direction is this going into?
Sanford Rubenstein 17:17
If I may go back to the last question that you address both the Reverend and myself with regard to change? I think it’s important to note that both the state legislature, the governor and the City Council have enacted new laws, which affect the direct issues, which we’re dealing with at this hearing. For example, the Andrew Kearse Act is an act now on the state level, which requires police officers to get medical aid for those who are in their custody or having medical emergencies. That is a matter of fact, as a subject now of a new statute before Congress, to make it criminal for a police officer not to get aid to someone who has a medical emergency. That’s an example of some of the legislation that has been passed in New York and New York City to try to address the problem of excessive use of force by police and police brutality. I’m sorry for not answering your last question. But I wanted to get to the one before that. Oh, by the way, if I may, in a photograph that I showed I neglected to identify, then city councilman Jumaane Williams, who was standing behind the mayor, who is now the public advocate of New York City once again, focusing on the fact that it’s just so important for elected officials, as well as civil rights advocates and civil rights leaders to shine a spotlight on wrongdoing by police.
Kevin McCall 18:50
And to answer your last question too, Mr. Commissioner. There are changes being made. But like I said, we have a long way to go. In New York State, you now have a Inspector General, which is independent of the police commissioner and independent of the district attorney to investigate police wrongdoings and shootings, where we didn’t have that before. We had to be able to fight that for that, because we didn’t believe in the justice system. And we didn’t have any faith in the justice system in terms of the fighting for them to be able to be charged. So yes, police officers are charged but now it’s independent. Also, we got the same Attorney General who’s now the Independent Police prosecutor. They are also talking about putting together, she actually sued the police department to have an independent police monitor. So then it’d be independent on the actions of the police. We wouldn’t have gotten that. that far. If we haven’t raised our voice and went and took over the streets and protest. We haven’t gotten, we wouldn’t have gotten that. So there’s a good thing that we continue to do that and keep continue to keep the pressure on. We have a long way to go. But I’ve always, you know, with this spiritual context is that the struggle may be long, but the victory is certainly you have to keep your feet on the plow, and keep marching and keep raising your voice, because eventually change is going to come.
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France 20:38
If I may, since it’s a, Reverend McCall, since this change, do you have any information about the number of African American killed? See since the beginning of the change in New York?
Kevin McCall 20:59
So yes, in New York City, there’s a there has not been a police shooting, a killing, since Eric Garner. Everything else after Eric Garner, you had about, I think eight, eight to 10. If I’m not mistaken, I can get the real number, but I believe it’s eight to 10 police shootings, killings, after this law, in terms of the independent prosecutor that was put in place. After Eric Garner, you had Saheed Vassell that was killed. You had Devin Dana, that was killed. You had an off duty police officer killed a gentleman by the name of Darren Smalls. So those things have happened even after the law was in place. However, the independent prosecutor, being that they got the indictment, they indicted these individuals, they were held responsible the offices, but there was nothing that the indictment came to at the end of the day, ame with to not guilty. And the cop got off, except Darren Smalls, he’s still facing departmental trial that’s coming up very soon. But in those other cases, Eric Garner case, he was not dealt with at all, he was able to continue on his job, we had to fight for him to get fired. He was eventually fired from the police department. But he didn’t face no jail time. The last time an officer actually faced your time that I remember that at my age was the cops that did that to, that sodomized, Abner Louima, which Mr. Rubenstein represented. And that was Justin Volpe.
Sanford Rubenstein 22:55
I might add as well, that since the jailing of Justin Volpe, and that was a case tried by the federal government, in over 20 cases that I have been involved in which there were wrongful killings of victims by police in New York City, not one police officer has gone to jail.
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France 23:24
Regarding the case of Shem Walker, is there a still a procedure pending or the case is totally closed?
Sanford Rubenstein 23:39
The prosecutor in Brooklyn did an investigation and did not convene a grand jury with regard to this wrongful death. The civil case was, we did as I indicated earlier, obtain a two and a quarter million dollar recovery for wrongful death. But unfortunately, no criminal charges were ever brought.
Kevin McCall 24:03
And also, I want to add that I also want to add, at that time when Shem Walker, we were under a district attorney by the name of Charles Heinz. Charles Heinz would meet with families, he will never indict a cop. He will always give a pass to police. So he has been in office for the last 27 years. But now we have a new district attorney who’s very progressive, who has a agenda to help police accountable, who has actually put it before a grand jury to indict officers and come back with a verdict, of helping of cops going to jail and actually dealing that and that’s what happened with Akai Gurley. Who was killed in Brooklyn, and he was a two officers actually killed him in a stairway. And the district attorney actually indicted those cops and those cops was sentenced. But the judge this way, the problem that we have is that the judge, because after the district attorney, and the independent prosecutors, they do their job at after they present the case, the judge faces the point to either recommend jail time, or recommended probation or community service, and so on and so forth, which is basically a slap on the wrist, and the judges give slap on the wrist. And that’s where our problem comes in that when you’re dealing with the Justice Department on police accountability,
Sanford Rubenstein 25:51
Just so the record is clear in the Akai Gurley case, while it was a conviction of the police officer, the police officer was not sentenced to jail time.
Sir Clare Roberts 26:06
What is – get an echo — I will continue. – What is the attitude of the victim’s family? To the fact that there is no, there is impunity, that the police get off with these killings, are they satisfied that justice is done with the pecuniary compensation? What would constitute for them the full package of justice?
Sanford Rubenstein 27:10
What I learned representing victims whose loved ones have been killed as a result of actions by police. They, yes, they need the financial recovery for their families to raise the children to replace the breadwinner who has now been lost. But what’s most important to them is to get justice and to have the police officers who wrongfully kill their loved ones held criminally accountable, and in fact, cut to jail. What’s happened though, if you want to look at the bright side is that some of the victims to become activists, the mother of the chokehold victim, Eric Garner, has become an activist, the bride to be of Sean Bell, Nicole Bell, who will be speaking before this commission on Saturday when we talk about the wrongful death of Sean Bell has become an activist, fighting so that what happened to their loved ones doesn’t happen to anyone else. And by the way, the list goes on and on of victims who have lost loved ones to police brutality, who have become activists. And I think that these victims who have suffered the loss of someone that can never be replaced by money. Can never be replaced, and their lives and the lives of their children, hoping it doesn’t happen to anyone else by there being activists fighting for change, fighting for new statutes, fighting, for example, for the kind of remedies that hopefully will bring an end to the terrible scourge of police brutality, which we’ve seen all over this country all over the world. As a matter of fact, when we look back to the demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, it’s very important to shine a light on wrongdoing. And while I hope and pray that we will not see more deaths at the hands of police, if they are I also hope and pray that those who have been active in the past continue to be active to protest march to demonstrate with the end result being an end to police brutality.
Kevin McCall 29:12
Okay, to answer your your question, sir. Commissioner. I’ve represented a lot of families and a lot of families preferably don’t want to sue the police department. They would rather get their son back, get their daughter back, get their loved one back. The monetary is just a drop in the bucket. They believe in the system. I encourage everyone to watch this movie called American Skin. It just came out a couple of weeks ago it’s on amazon prime. That movie shows a what families go through when a loved one is killed by the police department and what happens that the family has to go through and what they rather would see what happens with their loved one. So they would rather have their loved one. They were rather see them get justice and things change, because it happens over and over and over again, it doesn’t matter who president is, it doesn’t matter. What it is, is you have to change the laws in these towns, and police need to go to jail. That’s when you can change the dyamics. That’s when you can change the narrative when police officers go to jail for a crime, and that’s what’ll bring faith back into a system that’s been broken for 400 years.
Sir Clare Roberts 30:52
Reverend McCall, what is the root of the deadly level of force that officers employ to detain Black suspects? And, for instance, when they have to deal with warrant they go with whole teams of policemen with machine guns. Why that high level of almost warfare in dealing with, for Americans?
Kevin McCall 31:33
Because they think everybody is a criminal. They never think about their human capacity. First, you don’t think about them being a human being, they use excessive force, because that’s what they trained to do. They’re not trained to be able to shoot or kill you, and you’re a shooter. They’re not trained to be able to shoot you and your leg or your your your hand, they’re trained to be able to kill you and shoot you some semi mass. And that’s what they’re trained. They’re not trained to do that. So because their training is like this, that’s their mentality. Also, it comes to factors where they live. They live in the outskirts of New York, they don’t live in the city, just because someone saw the culture barrier. They think that one area in New York City may be bad or then the worst. So they come into our neighborhoods, saying all everybody’s the same. Everybody has that criteria of being a gangbanger or drugs is involved. So they have that with a mindset that every one in every five young Black men or family in New York City has a gun. And they come with that mentality when they knock on your door. And sometimes they don’t even knock, they bum rush the door. They arrest everybody in your family, they pepper spray you. You know, they do all kinds of stuff, because they don’t have a sense of humanality. And they have one goal in mind. And that’s to be able to find a gun or find drugs.
Sanford Rubenstein 33:11
I’d like to add as well, that there’s a structural deficit in the manner in which police respond to nine one call. So let me explain what I’m talking about. We did a demonstration NYPD don’t kill a mentally ill. And I’m representing four families who had mentally ill loved ones killed at the hands of the police. When one of the family members called 911. To say my mentally ill brother, my mentally ill son is acting out he didn’t take his medicine, can you send an ambulance to take them back to the hospital, instead of sending an ambulance, 911 sends police officers, police officers who may not have been trained how to deal with the mentally ill. And in fact, we need to change that fighting for that, mental health specialists to accompany any police officers who respond to a 911 call. And the families, when a loved one is killed, they have guilt for the rest of their lives. They say I can’t believe I called 911 for help. And instead of help, my loved one was killed. That’s a structural deficit that has to be fixed.
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France 34:12
If I may attorney Rubinstein. I would like ask you what has to be done to get equal justice all around the US for people of African descent, African Americans?
Sanford Rubenstein 34:31
There’s a long list but let me start with something simple. That could be done by President Biden. Under President Bush, President Clinton, the Justice Department under the civil rights statute that presently exists, had the right to investigate police departments in which there was a pattern and practice of police brutality, file a lawsuit in federal court and have a federal judge appoint a monitor to oversee the police department if it was found that the brutality did exist. Under President Trump, and ordered by Attorney General Sessions at the time, the justice department which is the only agency that can bring these lawsuits, stopped dead in his tracks, bringing this pattern and practice investigations and lawsuits were unnecessary. President Biden has to direct his attorney general, to start, once again, to have the Justice Department conduct these investigations and bring pattern and practice lawsuits against municipalities in which police departments have a record of police brutality. In addition, I would suggest that the civil rights statute, which gives the Justice Department sole jurisdiction to bring these patterns and practice lawsuits should be broadened so that these pattern and practice lawsuits of police brutality can also be brought by private actors, like for example, the NAACP defense fund, attorney generals in the various states, so that if there’s a president who directs his attorney general, or an attorney general, who doesn’t want to bring these pattern and practice lawsuits. private actors can.
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France 36:15
Last question, do you think African American could get more more justice, more rights, If the the civil rights was not only applied, but the human rights were applied, when human rights law were applied?
Sanford Rubenstein 36:41
I guess I would respond by saying civil rights are human rights. And when you fight for civil rights, you are fighting for human rights, because you’re fighting for the human rights of everyone to be treated equally.
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France 36:55
It depends, depends. It depends because the civil rights for African American are very reduced.
Sanford Rubenstein 37:05
Well, we see the civil rights of African Americans in this country being violated. But unfortunately, we see that all over the world. And that’s demonstrated by the, amazing demonstrations of activists throughout the world over the death of George Floyd. Police Brutality is a problem. It’s not just in this country, it’s a worldwide problem that has to be addressed. And that’s why I want to thank the UN and this commission for holding these hearings to shine a light on what’s going on, at least here in the United States.
Kevin McCall 37:35
And I want to answer your question, it, human rights and civil rights is interchangeable. They are logical with one another. But you have to be able to address the human rights that is being violated as well, especially when you’re talking about mental health. And those things of that aspect that is a human right, that law that should be dealt with when you’re dealing with the civil rights as well. So yes, to answer your question.
Sir Clare Roberts 38:09
The It was reported today that the former Columbus, Ohio police officer, Adam Coy, who fatally shot Andre Hill, a black man in December 2020 was indicted and charged with murder. Do you see this as a trend? Or this is just an aberration, sort of once?
Sanford Rubenstein 38:38
I would, I would suggest, first of all, that anytime someone is indicted, who’s a police officer with regard to the wrongful death of an innocent, police officers all over the country see that and aware of it, it acts as a deterrent to other other people becoming victimized.
Kevin McCall 39:00
So in this case, this is a step in the right direction. But many of times that we’ve seen officers get indicted. We see them get fired, because we’ve been screaming, and we’ve been protesting we’ve been marching and will they’ll do that to appease the people at that particular juncture. But as we saw in Breonna Taylor, as we saw, and in other cases, Eric Garner, right around the country that happened, you saw, you see officers get indicted. You see them get fired, but you don’t see them going to jail. That’s when we can say that is a complete victory. When they get go to jail. Just like in the case with Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, Georgia, that was killed. That police officer, that chief was was quit, resigned there, and went to Kentucky, the same time that Breonna Taylor was killed and became the chief there. So that goes to show you is that they’re going to stop, they’re gonna just go get another job is going to be a repetitive cycle of just an injustice, that goes through a system. We’re coming up on the jury in the trial for George Floyd. And for and for the officers in that case. It’s early March, we’re coming up with that. But nine times out of 10 is that we go and fight and for these things, but there’s no justice, the family gets except a settlement. The family gets happy, when the community and everybody gets happy. But we’ve been in the same … with this indictment. There’s an arrest, but there’s no jail time. And that’s a problem. That’s a problem in the city, that’s a problem in this country. That’s a problem in this world, when officers are not held to the same account of the law that is opposed to anybody else in this country.
Sir Clare Roberts 41:19
Reverend McCall, how can we fix that? How can we get justice for the victim? How can that be fixed? What do you suggest? How do we, is it the problem of sensitization what, what can be done so that you end up with justice, with officers being put in jail if that is required?
Kevin McCall 41:44
It’s two ways that can be able to be done. One is that all evidence, all evidence, in grand Jury proceedings across this country should be public. That’s the first thing. The second thing should happen in cases is that all evidence should be presented to the public and to the jurors. That’s all the case. It shouldn’t be no information that’s withheld. It should be all information on evidence, all testimonies, all conversations, it should be no deal that is offered within the police department, across the countries. It shouldn’t be, well, if you get fired, if you resign, I won’t charge you with this crime, there should be no deals that’s being done. Also, it should be the judges that are on the case, should have an understanding of what the evidence is being presented and show the support of what is being presented by the facts of the case. So they can have a clear understanding that this is not just a somebody that just talking but this is about the facts of the case, and having a judge make a decision based on all the factual evidence of the case. Lastly, it should be no plea deals that is done by the Justice Department in these courts. An officer should not negotiate whether he gets a slap on the wrist in terms of probation, community service, loss of vacation days, none of that. They should be automatic, where they get jail time as a part of the negotiations. That’s, I believe, can change that diaspora of really getting the justice for the families. Because this is a shame the last person that went to court to jail for a crime was Amber Guyger. The case where the gentleman and was in his own home, and she lied and she cried and she asked for forgiveness on the day of sentencing. And she’s spending about seven years in jail.
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France 44:34
Don’t, don’t, don’t you think even if there is some change at a police, police level or police department or Justice Department, don’t you think the things will be the same as as the issue of racialization, structural racism is not raised by the government and the peoples who are thinking they are white supremacist? Because–
Marjorie Cohn 45:04
There are five minutes remaining in the hearing.
Kevin McCall 45:07
No, absolutely not. Right. Racism existed white supremacy existed. In this institution, they don’t have not to be able to do it more. So it’s just it has something to do with privilege. Right now they’re looking.
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France 45:24
No, my question is, do you think even with change at a police department level or justice level? Do you think if there is no a refoundation of the American, North American society regarding the color line, the race line, that will be always police violence and mass incarceration, difficulty to find jobs etc, etc? And no justice? Do you think it’s sufficient to just make some change the police department or or?
Kevin McCall 46:07
It’s not — no.
Sanford Rubenstein 46:10
The truth of the matter is until the mentality of police officers is changed. So they don’t believe they can do with impunity, whatever they want, which is demonstrated by not going to jail when they will only kill someone. Until that’s changed, we are not going to be successful in addressing the serious problem of police wrongly killing innocent victims, particularly victims of African descent. So I say that you have to see police officers sent to jail when they wrongly kill someone. Second, we need the government to come in and be more aggressive in passing statutes, to prevent police brutality, and whether it exists dealing with it based on and perhaps then, and only then we will see an end to the scourge of police brutality in this country and in this world.
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France 47:01
Yes, but there is a need there is a need to to tackle structural racism before to challenge it. Because, you know, it could be of some change, you could have some we could have some change. But the, the basis of the American North American system is the same. And we have to change this basis of, the creation of, the system this racializing system with a structural racism. Because it is what the victim of the African descent, a victim of this structural racism don’t you think?
Kevin McCall 47:42
Yes, it’s cultural, systemic racism, it runs down, even before all of us. It’s racist culture that has to be embedded out of the system, in order to be able to be effective change. I don’t care what laws we change. I don’t care what and what, if we have to bleed out the cultural, systemic racism that’s in our country, in our Constitution, that what you can be able to do for a Black person that you can do the same thing for a white person, that that was Martin Luther King dream. So you you have a case right now where Kyle Rittenhouse who is being hailed all over the country as an hero by white supremacy, for killing people who gave, who’s out on bail right now, where the government can’t even find him and his mother. So unless you know, the white privilege that white people have, but if that was a Black man, he wouldn’t even got bail. Man. That’s the difference. That’s the difference. I’m sorry for screaming but I’m very passionate about, you know, that thing. Okay.
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France 49:14
Marjorie Cohn 49:15
We have one minute remaining in the hearing. There’s time for one last question from one of the commissioners.
Sir Clare Roberts 49:30
I’m reminded of a situation where young white male, killed some eight Black people and the police, in detaining him asked him if he was hungry and took him to fast food to have something to eat. Can you imagine if that were a Black man? How that would be dealt with. Reverend McCall, what would what do you have views on that?
Kevin McCall 50:02
I know that case very well, I was very much involved with it. That happened when a gentleman from Charleston, South Carolina, went into a church on Bible study on a Tuesday night. And he came, and he shot up the church. And the police took him to Burger King, because he said he was hungry. Where, if you think about the police in Baltimore, Maryland, when Freddie Gray said he was hungry, they broke his spine, on his way to the police precinct. So that’s a problem. That’s something that needs to be able to be dealt with. But here we go, we’ll fight, we’ll scream, we’ll holler, we’ll march, they will indict the cop. They’ll get, you know, they’ll tell the family and everybody else to call for peace. And which we do which we stand by peace. We don’t believe in looting, we don’t believe in tearing your city up. But how many times is that we’re going to be able to allow the system to not work for us. How many times that we’re going to just allow them to not get a guilty foundation. And I want to say this on record. If they don’t get no justice, and the officers that killed George Floyd, that they don’t get no jail term. I guarantee you that this city, this country will go up in flames . As you know, back in May of last year, it was a moment in history. What happened with George Floyd. And we have a moment in history now to change the narrative about police. So I’m thankful for this conversation that the UN is having. But I want you guys to add to that to report that change has to come because you think they fight in the countries that y’all be in. And I see how y’all get down with the police. I watch it on the news. I watch it on NBC and BBC I watch it. But I guarantee you, we will be like that if we don’t get justice for George Floyd.
Marjorie Cohn 52:23
Thank you Reverend McCall and Mr. Rubenstein. This concludes the hearing in the case of Shem Walker. Hearings will resume tomorrow.