It was the week before election day, however Alvin Bragg he was not happy to hand over or raise funds, was not in a campaign, or met with veterans of the office he hopes to run.
Instead, he was in a virtual courtroom questioning a member of the New York Police Department about the events of July 19, 2014, the day Eric Garner told a police officer holding him in his soul that he couldn’t breathe.
Mr. Bragg, a Democratic candidate for district attorney in Manhattan who has a strong favor for winning Tuesday’s general election, has represented Mr. Bragg’s family for the past few years. Garner, as he is he continued to search for details of the water until his murder that day, an event that caught attention in the way black men are in New York and across the country.
This week, this fight culminated judicial investigation among which Mr. Bragg and others carefully interrogated members of the police department, illuminating not only the death of Mr. Garner, but also the department’s focus on fighting the low-level crimes that led police to pursue him at all.
Although Mr. Bragg could not have planned the election and the judicial investigation into the death of Mr. Garner coincided so closely, the case conveys some of the key messages of his campaign: he said he would stop committing a number of low-level crimes and often spoke of police responsibility.
The attorney general works hand in hand with New York City police and the cooperation of Mr. Bragg in the investigation – which again highlights a shameful episode from the department’s recent past – shows that his relationship with the department will be more the opposite than that of his predecessors.
“I think there are risks involved for him, as he will have to work with the police department as a district attorney,” said Jessica Roth, director of the Jacob Burns Center for Ethics in Legal Practice at Cardozo University.
However, she added that Mr Bragg’s involvement in the investigation was in line with the priorities he had expressed in his campaign.
“The investigation is to try to find out what happened and whether people acted in accordance with their duty,” Ms Roth said. “Bragg has worked most of his career in law enforcement and has worked productively with the police. It is not necessary that people take responsibility and think systemically about issues, it is not contrary to the police administration. “
Mr. Bragg, 48, is a former federal prosecutor who also worked in the New York State Attorney’s Office, where he became chief deputy attorney general. He is running for office, which handles the cases of tens of thousands of defendants each year, most of them based on arrests made by New York police.
Although the office may dismiss the charge of defendants arrested by police, it doesn’t do so often: in 2019, under the leadership of current District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the office refused to prosecute 9 percent of all arrests it assessed.
This number is partly low because the Police Administration responds to policy decisions made by the district attorney. For example, when prosecutors in the office stopped accusing defendants of embezzling fares, arrests based on that charge were reduced.
Although this responsiveness is likely to continue if Mr. Bragg takes office, any disagreement between him and the department – or the likely next mayor, Eric Adams, who intends to rebuild a police unit to fight crime – could lead to public friction over the type, which has become more common among prosecutors and police officials, especially in cities like Philadelphia, where the police union was actively involved against District Attorney Larry Krasner.
Republican opponent Mr. Bragga, Thomas Kenniff, also called for the re-establishment of the anti-crime unit and a re-focus on low-level crime.
Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former police officer, said in an interview that both prosecutors and police have become more politicized in recent years, a dynamic that can fuel tensions but that the police would respect prudent approach g. Bragga.
“He has to be an honest broker,” Mr. O’Donnell said of Mr. Bragg.
Mr. Bragg has made his difficult encounters with the police a fundamental part of his campaign, and police responsibility is at the heart of his resume.
Among other things, working in the New York Attorney General’s Office, he led a unit tasked with investigating police killings of unarmed civilians, which arose in part in response to the death of Mr. Garner. (Mr. Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, was present when Mr. Cuomo signed the order leading to the establishment of this unit.)
When he takes over as district attorney, Mr. Bragg plans to set up a police integrity unit that will report directly to him, separate from the rest of the office, to avoid any conflicts with other offices.
Mr. Bragg has a long history of working with law enforcement. In general, they do not see him as a bomb thrower, but as a coalition builder who knows how to give different parties the feeling that their concerns have been heard.
“I say what I don’t want the cops to do, but I think it’s important to say in the next breath what I want them to do: be our partners in the fight against the arms trade and sexual assault,” Bragg said. adding that he was always “deeply aware” of staying at his desk while law enforcement agents were on the ground.
“The police officers I work with are the ones who will then go on arrest or on a search warrant, and that is a challenge, very important and can be dangerous,” Mr Bragg said.
Mr Bragg did not stand or draw attention to himself during the trial this week when he questioned Lieutenant Christopher Bannon, the police commander who, after being informed of Mr “nothing special.”
Nonetheless, Mr Bragg struggled to hammer down to the smallest detail, and asked a number of questions about the meeting at which police discussed the suppression of the illegal sale of cigarettes and the protocol for completing the note. Judge Erika Edwards, who described the investigation as a “transparent” quest for transparency, had to rush it from time to time.
Mr. Bragg proudly mentioned his representation of Mr. Garner’s family throughout the campaign, and Ms. Carr expressed her gratitude in return, especially for his presence in the courtroom last week.
“I’m really glad he decided to represent me in this investigation when he could be in the campaign,” she said. “He said he would do this investigation to the end. My family and I are grateful for that.”
Troy Closson contributed reporting.