MOUNT VERNON – Family, friends and the legal team of a black man acquitted of murder charges is filing a federal lawsuit against the city of Mount Vernon, its police department and Westchester County prosecutors, accusing the parties of violating his civil rights by prosecuting him despite being aware of his innocence.
Rahsi McLean was found not guilty of all charges in the 2011 shooting death of Gloria Nartley on South 12th Avenue, Tuesday, May 16th in Westchester County Court. Nartley was walking home when a stray bullet struck her in the head.
The family and legal team of Rahsi McLean held a press conference on the steps of City Hall, Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 at 11:00 am to call for oversight of the Mount Vernon Police Department and announce the filing of civil rights lawsuit.
“There needs to be a comprehensive investigation by a higher authority into this matter,” says Attorney Pamela D. Hayes.
Westchester County Assistant District Attorney, Ms. Prisco calls “the Mount Vernon Police Incompetent” and says “They need an overhaul of the Police Department,” in her summation, in County Court on Wednesday, May 10th.
McClean’s lawyers and relatives say investigators knew he was innocent all along and pressed charges anyway, even attempting to enter into evidence the rap lyrics of his Rashi’s brother.
“I want to see changes in the justice system because black men go through this every day,” says Susan McClean.
Mount Vernon police had acknowledged mistakes in the case but maintained that the evidence points toward McClean as the shooter.
Deputy Chief Roy Hastings says the department will respect the jury’s verdict, but he denies that the charges were trumped up, News 12 Westchester reported.
“He beat the case on a technicality,” Hastings says.
The Westchester district attorney’s office declined to comment on the case, stating that the case was sealed since it ended in an acquittal when Black Westchester Magazine contacted them for a quote.
Other Families Demand Justice, Call For Federal Intervention In MVPD Homicide Investigations
The family of Rashi isn’t the only family who has complained about the handling of homicides and called for federal intervention in the way homicides are handled in the city of Mount Vernon. A group called Mount Vernon Families For Justice held a peaceful rally demanding justice all the unsolved murders and for the families who can’t get information about their lost loved ones, Saturday, February 12th. You could feel the pain when the family members of homicide victims spoke. One father Kevin Shaw Sr., said it’s like Black Lives Don’t Matter in Mount Vernon.
“I haven’t heard from nobody, not one time, nobody, no police officer, nobody never called me, since my son was murdered up here in Mount Vernon,” Mr. Shaw, father of 26-year-old Kevin Shaw Jr., of the Bronx, who was shot and killed in the passenger seat of a car coming from Sue’s Rendezvous, Wednesday, June 24, 2015, told the crowd in February 2017.
Another mother, who’s son Dean Daniels, who was murdered in the city of Mount Vernon September 22, 2014 share in a letter to BW;
“In my fight for justice, I’ve been made to feel like a nuisance; never given updates; have no contact person to speak with; ignored by the Mayor of Mount Vernon; and disrespected by law enforcement official who on one occasions would not allow me to enter their office building and spoke to me in a parking lot,” Dean Daniels’ mom wrote on May 23rd.
“I WILL NOT let my son’s death be swept under the rug hoping I will disappear,” Ms Duncan shared with BW. “My last option is to notify Every and All sources and the media and speak out and seek help because I would like a closure to my son’s death, so I can begin to heal.”
Just imagine the family of Gloria Nartley, who were led to believe by the MVPD they had their daughter’s killer in custody, now they have to relive this all over again as the MVPD re-open the investigation into her death.
Now you have the Westchester County ADA, saying in her summation, ““It’s not a conspiracy. It’s incompetence,” prosecutor Jean Lucido Prisco said of the MVPD officers who lost the evidence. “…there should be ramifications for that type of thing. Someone should be disciplined. Someone should be suspended. Someone should be terminated.”
“They caused an innocent man to be put through this rigmarole,” Hayes said. “They are going to be held liable.”
During the trial, police officers admitted to losing key video evidence that Hayes and Raysor said would have helped to exonerate McClean.
Two officers also testified that they had both been convicted of misdemeanors but were still serving on Mount Vernon’s police force. One had been convicted of assault, The Daily News reported.
“There have been issues brought forward for many years in regard to the workings of the MVPD,” wrote former Mount Vernon City Council President Karen Watts-Yehudah, currently a minister at Yehudah Ministries, in the comment section of our article. “And there are many good officers trying to make the best of difficult situations. What confuses me is why the Mayor has not seen fit to employ skilled and knowledgeable leadership for the department!.”
Mayor Richard Thomas has once again, not returned our calls for comment.
You have families on both sides of the spectrum, families of a young man here who’s family says has been wrongly prosecuted and found Not Guilty but a jury and family members of the homicide victims, who are crying, screaming, demanding justice, all calling for federal intervention into the MVPD.
Black Westchester would like to end by saying, we are not talking about every member of the MVPD, but the bad apples. In addition all of the good ones who are doing the best they can without proper leadership.
AJ is a Father, Author, Writer, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
You can also hear AJ every Thursday morning at 7:20 A.M. on Good Morning Westchester with host Bob Marrone on WVOX