The Daily News interviewed Steve Vaccaro about the Shereese Francis case in connection with a broader report on the failure to prosecute police in instances of fatal misconduct.
A Daily News analysis of NYPD-involved deaths starts with the 1999 slaying of unarmed Amadou Diallo in a hail of bullets in the Bronx and ends with last month’s shooting death of Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn stairwell. Where race was known, 86% were black or Hispanic.
A Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict white NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold death of Eric Garner — a black father of six — stunned large swaths of the city and added fuel to a nationwide surge of protests over police killings.
But history shows the odds were always in Pantaleo’s favor.
A Daily News investigation found that at least 179 people were killed by on-duty NYPD officers over the past 15 years. Just three of the deaths have led to an indictment in state court. In another case, a judge threw out the indictment on technical grounds and it was not reinstated.
Shereese Francis, 29, of Queens, died of heart failure in 2012 after being suffocated by four male officers who were called to get her in an ambulance because she hadn’t been taking her meds, another lawsuit claims.
After a 14-month investigation that included several home visits and interviews with family members who were present on the day of the death, the Queens DA declined to prosecute, according to court records. The family was awarded $1.1 million in a civil lawsuit in May.
The family’s lawyer said her death was ruled a homicide due to compression of the chest. She, like Garner, was obese, and the cops applied a chokehold on her for a short time as well, lawyer Steve Vaccaro said.