NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — NAACP New Bedford is calling for an independent investigation into the death of Malcom Gracia by city police officers in 2012.
The attorney representing Gracia’s family, Donald Brisson, recently revealed facts that were overlooked or ignored in the initial investigation, according to NAACP New Bedford.
“There does need to be transparency in our justice system,” Brisson said.
President of NAACP New Bedford Dr. LaSella Hall said the community has the right to know what happened leading up to the death of the 15-year-old New Bedford resident.
“Now that we’re able to get new information, we have to take new steps,” Hall said. “We just want the truth and the Justice Department has the resources to get the truth.”
In a letter sent to the head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, NAACP New Bedford wrote:
“With compelling evidence of mishandled forensics; overly friendly interrogation of the accused police officers; an assistant DA who failed to gather critical evidence; mishandled forensics; the DA’s final report riddled with factual errors and implausible assumptions; a gag order on medical records of the police officer who claimed to have been stabbed and; New Bedford’s half-million dollar settlement with the Gracia family, it is clear the justice was the second casualty in this case.”
Brisson says a federal investigation sends a clear message to both law enforcement and the community.
“You’re now putting people on notice that no one is above the law,” Brisson said. “Police aren’t above the law.”
Both Brisson and Hall say it’s important to share Malcom’s side of the story, since he cannot tell it for himself.
“This young man’s life can never be brought back, this situation can never be made whole, but what we can at least do is work hard to get the true story of that night,” Hall said. “I believe overwhelmingly that is what the community wants.”
Due to the ongoing pandemic, social unrest and the presidential election, Hall says he does not have any expectations about when he will hear back from the DOJ.