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Eric Adams

Five Years After the NYPD Killed Kawaski Trawick, Eric Adams Is Still Acting Like He and His Family ‘Do Not Exist’

Nearly a year after a disciplinary trial for the cops who killed Trawick, the NYPD has still taken no action, and nobody will explain what they're waiting for.

The police killing of Kawaski Trawick posed a moral test that Eric Adams failed. (Facebook / Benny Polatseck | Mayoral Photography Office)

When it suits them, NYPD leadership and Mayor Eric Adams are fond of howling about the deficiencies of other actors in the criminal legal system: Judges and lawmakers, they say, are often far too slow to bring bad actors to justice. Their noisy interest in speedy adjudication and the swift removal of rulebreakers from spaces where they can endanger the public evaporates, however, when the bad actors in question are police.

It's been five years since NYPD officers Brendan Thompson and Herbert Davis forced open the door of Kawaski Trawick's apartment in a Bronx supportive housing building. Within 112 seconds, Thompson tased the 32 year old, then shot him to death. After a year and a half of waiting for the NYPD to turn over video evidence of the killing, the Civilian Complaint Review Board substantiated misconduct findings for Thompson and Davis, teeing up a disciplinary trial before an NYPD administrative judge. That CCRB trial concluded nearly a year ago, with the judge recommending no discipline at all for Thompson and Davis. But the final decision rests with NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban, and for the last year, with the case gathering dust on his desk, he has not announced what that decision will be. 

What does it take to get the NYPD to follow its own disciplinary process in a timely way? Why is Mayor Eric Adams content to let the police slow-walk a disciplinary decision for cops whose killing of a man in his home and subsequent failure to render any lifesaving care is plain for all to see? How can anyone pretend that accountability for deadly police misconduct exists under these circumstances? These were the questions on the lips of members of Trawick's family, police accountability activists, and public officials who rallied on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.

In a statement read at the rally by Shannon Bland, Trawick's cousin, Trawick's parents Ellen and Rickie noted the parallels between the police killing of their son five years ago and the police killing of Win Rosario in Queens last month.

"In both cases, the police came in creating the crisis and killed sons, in seconds. For Kawaski, it was 112 seconds," they wrote. "In both cases, Mayor Adams has acted like these sons do not exist." Adams, they noted, has not spoken either Win or Kawaski's name publicly.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane WIlliams, speaking at the rally, also drew a straight line between the two police killings. "If there was accountability, or if there was change in how we respond to these types of calls," he said, "Win Rosario possibly might be alive today."

Royce Russell, the lawyer representing the Trawick family in their civil suit against the NYPD, suggested that New Yorkers who voted for Adams because they took him at his word that he was committed to police accountability had been fooled. He addressed Mayor Adams directly: "Where are you?" he asked. "Who are you? That's the real question."

So what exactly is going on at NYPD headquarters? When can Trawick's family expect a ruling from Commissioner Caban? What has been happening during the past year since the administrative judge's recommended ruling landed on his desk? We posed these questions to an NYPD press officer, who responded with a single sentence: "The disciplinary process remains ongoing."

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams released a statement Wednesday decrying the administration's delay and silence. "As a mother and grandmother, this is all heartbreaking," she wrote. "As an elected official and resident of New York City, it is unacceptable."

When Hell Gate pressed Adams previously on how his administration is handling the disciplinary cases of Thompson and Davis at an event back in October, he professed to be unaware that his own NYPD delayed the release of body camera footage in Trawick's case for over a year, and said that speeding the resolution of NYPD misconduct cases was important to him. "I want this to be a hallmark of this administration, that we need to shorten the time," he said. That was six months ago. Asked Wednesday what happened to the mayor's commitment to police accountability and speedy disciplinary resolutions, the Mayor's Office had nothing to say, instead referring the questions to the NYPD.

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