Binghamton City Council Democrats call for external investigation of BPD ‘kneeling incident’

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 12:13 AM EST
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Binghamton (WBNG) - Members of the Binghamton City Council are calling for an independent investigation into an incident involving a Binghamton police officer and a local man.

Democratic Binghamton City Council members Angela Riley, Aviva Friedman and Joe Burns gathered on the corner of State and Hawley Street, where the incident took place New Year’s Day. The council members announced they would be proposing legislation at a city council meeting Monday to suspend the officer involved and hire a third party to investigate the matter.

A video of the incident previously shared with 12 News showed an officer kneeling on the neck of a man, who was on the ground following a fight that broke out.

“The footage of the incident that has been shared both locally and globally caused viewers to reflect back on the late George Floyd,” said District 3 Councilwoman Angela Riley.

Shortly following the incident, a complaint was filed against the Binghamton Police Department, and the officer was placed on desk duty while an internal investigation is underway. The Office of Attorney General Letitia James has also requested records relating to the incident.

“We appreciate Letitia James and the Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Office for their interest in this event, and we welcome their involvement,” said District 5 Councilman Joe Burns. “However, we are requesting a comprehensive review that extends beyond the civil rights component.”

District 4 Councilmember Aviva Friedman said hiring an external, independent investigator to look into the incident would help eliminate bias and conflict of interests. She said she expects the investigation to include whether or not the officer’s knee on the resident’s neck violated the city’s use of force policy, or violated the New York State Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act.

The three council members said they would need one Republican vote to move forward with the legislation to hire an external investigator.

Ahead of the city council meeting, Mayor Jared Kraham said he believes the proposal will not receive the support it needs to move forward. He said he trusts the Attorney General’s Office will conduct a fair and thorough investigation.

“I view it as a moot point, there’s not going to be support on city council to get something like that passed,” said Kraham. “But, I think the most important thing is we don’t want to do anything to undermine the integrity of the fact finding process.”

Kraham said there is no set timeline in completing the investigations, and the Binghamton Police Department will coordinate with the Attorney General’s Office to release their findings.

During the council’s Monday night work session meeting, the council members decided to postpone the vote for the legislation until Monday, Feb. 6.