Update: the George Tillman Case
George Tillman was buried this past Saturday after an emotional funeral at the New Jerusalem Worship Center in Jamaica, Queens. George was shot 13 times, including once in the head, after multiple members of the NYPD approached him during an investigation of an open container of alcohol on April 17. The Tillman family and friends of George expressed their outrage during the funeral whose speakers included State Senator Leroy Comrie, representatives of the National Action Network and activist Erica Ford of LIFE Camp, Inc. “There are no words that can bring comfort and solace to you,” said Comrie to the Tillman family. “Something that never should have happened, happened.”
George was described as a gentle man, who went to school, received an education and got married as a young man – and took care of his five young children. At the time of his death he was also a licensed electrician and union member. All of these traits George possessed — an educated father and husband with a good career — make clear that he was not the sort of person who would threaten law enforcement with a gun when confronted over an open container of alcohol. Everyone who spoke at George’s funeral made clear that he was not a violent man; instead, he was one who protected and supported his family.
A Debriefing of an Eyewitness
This past week I had the opportunity to speak to witnesses who were present when George was killed by the NYPD. One witness was outside George’s car with him when George was shot by the police. Not only did he never see George with a gun that night or at the moment he was killed, but he never heard any of the officers tell George to drop a gun – instead, he saw them firing at him while George was running away. After George was killed, this witness was put into the back of a police car — arrested without a charge — and taken, handcuffed, to a holding cell inside a Queens precinct. The witness was never charged with a crime – and never permitted to contact an attorney – for 12 hours, until he was finally released. These are hardly the actions of innocent officers who were doing things by the book.
We have offered to make this witness available to the Attorney General for an interview and have also forwarded copies of multiple videotapes of the shooting that were recorded at the scene of the shooting. As the Attorney General’s and Queens County District Attorney’s investigation continues – and as we wait for the return of the results of the autopsy – we are beginning to prepare a notice of claim for damages against the NYPD for George’s death. As there has been virtually no contact from the NYPD to George’s family since he was killed to explain what occurred that night, except the trashing of George in the media by the Police Commissioner, it would seem that the only way to get answers as to why the four officers opened fire on a man with an open container who was running away from them would be through litigation, depositions and a trial.
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