Gothamist: “Did The NYPD Suffocate A Mentally Ill Woman To Death While Trying To Cuff Her?”

shereese francis

Steve Vaccaro, who represents the family of Shereese Fancis, criticizes the NYPD’s unjustified delays in withholding information from victims’ families.

This afternoon, the family of Shereese Francis, a 30-year-old woman with a diagnosed mental illness, held a press conference at 1 Police Plaza demanding accountability for her death at the hands of police officers on March 15th. A disoriented Francis suffocated in her Jamaica, Queens home as officers attempted to handcuff her—they had been called to the home by her family, who had requested medical attention. Francis was apparently frightened and confused when officers arrived at her home and pleaded for them to leave while threatening to “call the cops.”

Francis’s parents have filed suit against the NYPD, as well as the the four officers involved, requesting the release of evidence surrounding their daughter’s death. “We were stonewalled for weeks only to have details leaked to the Wall Street Journal by anonymous sources. Why were those details not made available to the family?” asked the family’s attorney, Steve Vaccaro, “Only when we announced this press conference did IAB return our call wanting to speak to the family.”

Vaccaro, who also represents the family of slain cyclist Mathieu Lefevre, criticized the NYPD’s ongoing efforts to withhold information, “On March 21, we made a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law on NYPD for information about Shereese’s death. NYPD’s response was that they needed a month to think about how and whether they would respond. They gave us no information whatsoever. This is the NYPD’s standard play with victim’s families. Stonewall and delay,” he said, “Never again will we accept indifference and lies from NYPD instead of the compassion and professionalism we have a right to expect.”

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