By LOUIS FLORES
As activists in New York City continued to press for police reform and for better wages and working condition on May Day, news reports indicated that prosecutors were making advances in holding corrupt officials accountable.
New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his son, Adam Skelos, face arrest next week, as early as Monday, in connection with a federal corruption probe being led by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the nation's top federal prosecutor in New York's southern district, according to a report published late Friday afternoon by The New York Times.
If the arrests take place, the culture of corruption up in Albany would face another bomb drop by U.S. Attorney Bharara, who has focused the resources of his team of federal prosecutors on cleaning up government and political corruption.
An earlier report published by DNAinfo New York indicated that U.S. Attorney Bharara's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had obtained court authorization to conduct wiretaps on public officials under investigation for possible federal wrongdoing. The court authorization for wiretaps was reportedly extended to include lawyers, lobbyists, and contractors working for the public officials under investigation.
Greater prosecutorial scrutiny of police misconduct, brutality, and murder
The news emanating from U.S. Attorney Bharara's office was augmented by a surprise announcement made by Marilyn Mosby, the State Attorney for Baltimore City, that her office had found probable cause to order the arrest of six police officers in connection with the April 12, 2015, beating of Freddie Gray. Mr. Gray died from his injuries on April 19. The local medical examiner has ruled Mr. Gray's death a homicide.
State Attorney Mosby's announcement followed a civil uprising in Baltimore and acted to immediately ease tensions in that city.
The charges against the police officers in Baltimore represented the second speedy move by prosecutors after a spree of recent cases of officer-involved homicides rocking the nation.
On April 7, 2015, a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer, Michael Slager, was charged in connection with the April 4, 2015, shooting death of Walter Scott.
The charges in the Gray and Scott cases followed a string of police officer-involved homicides where local prosecutors refused to file charges or jumbled cases against police officers involved in encounters with unarmed Black men that eventually turned fatal.
In New York City, District Attorney Daniel Donovan (R-Staten Island), for example, deliberately chose not to seek lesser included charges in the grand jury proceedings against New York Police Department officer Daniel Pantaleo in connection with the July 17, 2014, chokehold homicide of Eric Garner. After the Staten Island grand jury voted not to file criminal charges against Officer Pantaleo, tensions increased between minority communities and the NYPD, mirroring tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, and other parts of the nation, where police officers have appeared to systematically engage in brutality, including brutality that leads to fatalities, with impunity.
The news out of Baltimore gave police reform activists in New York City hope that the national conversation for improving oversight and accountability over police departments was being heard.
"To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America : I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace.’ Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man," State Attorney Mosby said on Friday, referring to the late Mr. Gray.