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New York AG suggests NYPD get rid of traffic stops to prevent deadly force incidents

New York AG suggests NYPD get rid of traffic stops to prevent deadly force incidents
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New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) recommended that the New York Police Department (NYPD) no longer conduct traffic stops as a way of trying to prevent violent encounters.

James, who also acts as a special prosecutor to investigate some police killings, made the recommendation Friday as she released a report into the death of Allan Feliz, who was killed last October after police stopped him for a seat belt violation.

“The death of Allan Feliz was a tragedy, and I offer my deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones during this time,” said James. “While criminal charges were not warranted, we were gravely concerned by some of the actions of the responding offices and issued a number of recommendations that the NYPD should take into account, including removing officers from engaging in any type of routine traffic enforcement activity.” 

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James said her investigation could not conclude that the use of deadly force was unjustified in the Feliz case but that the sequence of events that led to his killing would not have happened if the NYPD had not pulled him over. Tensions were heightened in the encounter when officers tried to arrest him for outstanding warrants for offenses such as spitting, littering and disorderly conduct.

James went on to recommend that if the NYPD decides to preserve officers’ role in traffic stops that it scrap a policy encouraging police to arrest any motorist they stop who has open warrants.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill regarding James’s recommendations.

The report detailed the 2019 shooting of Feliz, who was first stopped for the seat belt violation. Feliz initially complied when asked to get out of his car but then reentered his vehicle and tried to flee. An officer then fired a stun gun at Feliz and climbed into the car, warning that he would shoot him. Feliz then shifted the car and began moving, after which the officer shot and killed him.

James’s office concluded the shooting was justified because the officer feared the moving car could injure another nearby officer.