A speak-out was held outside New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office on June 18 to support the family of Matthew Felix, a 19-year-old Queens resident shot and killed by Nassau County Police. The event was organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation and attended by community supporters and family members of other police brutality victims.
Family and community charge that Felix was murdered by Nassau County plainclothes police officers in February 2020 after they illegally pursued him across county lines in unmarked vehicles. Felix’s death is just one of many such killings by police in Long Island, an area which not only has a history of police brutality against its own Black and Brown residents, but is also the home to 26% of NYPD’s officers, according to data from 2016.
Nassau police state that Felix was a suspect in a carjacking case, but have failed to provide anything to substantiate that claim. In fact, the police department has stonewalled both the family and the community under the pretext that the carjacking was still an active investigation, and thus could not be commented on. This has created a situation wherein Felix’s death has remained a complete mystery to his friends and family.
James, who was elected on promises of combating the epidemic of police brutality in New York, refused to meet with the family directly. She also refused to release the bodycam footage from that night, contradicting the promise made during her campaign that she would swiftly release all footage in investigations involving killings of civilians by police officers.
Under these circumstances, PSL, in conjunction with the Felix family, issued four demands:
- Attorney General Letitia James meet with the Felix family
- Nassau PD release the unedited footage from any dashboard, traffic, or body cameras from the night of Feb. 25, 2020, when Matthew was killed, to the Felix family
- Release the names of officers involved in Matthew’s death
- Prosecution of the officers involved in Matthew’s death to the fullest extent of the law
On Friday, over a year since the fatal shooting of their son, the Felix family was finally able to meet with James’s representatives in hopes that some of these demands would be met and that the state would press charges.
However, at the end of the nearly two-hour meeting and accompanying rally, Felix’s sister Samantha informed the waiting crowd that, while they were finally given the names of the officers involved in the shooting, not only will James not file charges, but she will also not be releasing any footage.
The AG’s office “gave us an in-depth scenario of what they think happened, and I don’t believe their account,” Samantha said of the meeting that she and her mother attended. “This will not discourage us, but only add fuel to the flames. The fight to get justice for Matthew will continue.”
While the AG’s office did meet one of the demands by releasing the names of the officers, there is still a long way to go before justice is achieved, not only for the Felix family, but to all families of victims of police brutality.
“We mustn’t lose track of the main thing that pushes them back: when one of them goes to jail, instead of going home,” maintained Jason Corley of Mass Action Against Police Brutality. “Police officers need to go jail when they commit the same crimes that we’re prosecuted for — not go home with pay.”