The One Who Can Protect You Speaks Out

What does a life of a person mean in our police state? Does it make a difference whether it is a life of a black or a white person? These and other questions came up when we had an interview with our guest Jeffrey Lichtman, a criminal defense and civil rights attorney from New York. Jeffery has a brilliant records of his work and an experience for over than 25 years, but the most important thing is that he collaborates with the African American community and has already reached astonishing results. Today we will talk about the April 17th shooting of George Tillman, a Maryland electrician killed by police in Queens.
Good evening, Jeffrey! As George Tillman’s attorney you can shed light on the situation from the client’s side, so could you, please, tell us what happened that day?
Jeffrey Lichtman
Tillman was with his family in Queens. He was up there visiting friends and family on April 17. This was a guy who had a real career, real job; he was a licensed electrician in the union. He was out with his wife and some of his friends when suddenly a bunch of police cars rolled up. Tillman and his friends were confronted for having an opened container of alcohol. In a matter of seconds, Tillman was shot eleven times. The officers claim that George had a gun and he was reaching for it. Yet, none of the witnesses saw him with a gun or heard the law enforcers scream “gun”! Police just shot him. They discovered a gun and we have no idea where it came from. This was a guy who had 5 young children and wasn’t the kind of person who would join a gang. He wasn’t that kind of guy who would pull a gun out to battle the police either.
I see, it looks like the police planted the gun and lied about the whole thing. Was there something else, maybe some peculiar behavior of the police, that could prove the fact that they were lying?
Jeffrey Lichtman
One thing was alarming. I believe they thought that they were doing the right thing. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been so aggressive in how they handled the crime scene and the witnesses after. There was one man outside the car with George when he was shot and the police arrested him and put him in jail for 12 hours. They would not let him talk to a lawyer. This is the example of aggressive nature of these officers and it does suggest that they were hiding something. The investigation is going on right now and we do not expect any of the officers to be arrested right now.
Do you think that this was a racist shooting?
Jeffrey Lichtman
For me, this shouldn’t be a black and white issue but unfortunately it is. Because it’s inconceivable to think that a white person in a low-crime neighborhood, where this happened, would be handled so aggressively by the police for having an opened container. Situations like this happen every day. The claim that George had a gun creates an impression that he was a bad guy. But he was not. He didn’t take part in any criminal activity, or in a gang. He was simply with his friends and family when he got shot.
Did any of the officers have a body cam? Is there footage or any other evidence proving your point or the point of the police?
Jeffrey Lichtman
We don’t know and we can only assume if there were cams but there should have been. We did see some video tapes from one of the houses that had a camera outside and we simply saw George being shot. We couldn’t see whether there was a gun pulled but, as I said, not a single witness that was there, including multiple people that were inside the car, saw him with a gun and no one heard the police scream “drop your gun” or anything.
Do the police’s actions seem weird and excessive to you?
Jeffrey Lichtman
The whole situation doesn’t make any sense as well as the police actions afterward. I mean they arrested a witness and didn’t let him speak to a lawyer. You know, to me it reveals guilty action. I don’t believe the police and they have lost credibility with me, the people of NYC and certainly America.
Do you think our Justice and Criminal system has changed in questions of racism? How prejudiced, do you think the court may be in cases when the defendant is black? Does the fact that you are black make you automatically guilty?
Jeffrey Lichtman
I think that things have changed. This is not the same NYPD of 30 years ago. I don’t know if it’s going to be tougher with the jury to believe the cops are capable of this. You know, I’m willing to take that chance. These cops are not going to get away with this case without being forced to have their words measured by a judge.
What do you think should be a punishment for police officers who have committed crimes in this country?
Jeffrey Lichtman
If a police officer is guilty I think he or she must receive punishment same as any other person. If this was a reckless and negligent action, the very least is for them to be relieved of their duties so that they don’t put others in danger again. Besides, there has to be a penalty.
If we are talking about this exact situation, I’ve been to George’s funeral and it’s heartbreaking to see his family grieving. Meanwhile, this police commissioner who, of course, knows what has happened is making a joke about it. He is not taking it seriously but it is him seeing over a department every single day. There are more reports of criminality, police brutality, dishonesty and ethical violations. And the least thing for him to be done is to step down because he is obviously not a good example of justice in NYPD.
Is there any real chance these officers will go to prison?
Jeffrey Lichtman
If they are charged criminally, there is a decent chance that some of them will go to prison.
How significant in your opinion is the role of protests and petitions in serving justice in cases like this?
Jeffrey Lichtman
I think people need to understand what’s going on and they need to do something more than just say “wow, what the shame that is,” and go on to the next story. What needs to be done is to call the congressmen, state senators and demand that George’s murder or killing is investigated independently. I don’t know if petitions help but if people keep being interested and ask questions and demand answers, I think that’s something that would help.
Aren’t you afraid to speak against police brutality and racism? Have you face any disapproval from your colleagues for protecting Blacks?
Jeffrey Lichtman
No, I don’t. I’ve been doing this at a pretty high level for 25 years now and I’ve never been scared of anything. If I had any fears, I won’t be able to get out of my bed. Frankly, the truth will come out one way or another.
Last but not least, do you believe this country is ready for changes and needs those? What can an average man like our reader do for these changes?
Jeffrey Lichtman
I think that a lot of power is in the vote. That’s certainly important and I don’t think all the police departments are rotten, I think some of them are. And I think that there should be some kind of over-sighting to prevent the corruption that’s in the PD.
On behalf of our readers, we want to thank you for giving us these vital insights into George’s shooting that resulted so mournfully.
Jeffrey Lichtman
Thank you! I do appreciate your website. It helps people to become educated and to know what’s going on. A typical white person does not understand this kind of stuff that happens to Black people every day. And if nothing changes, at some point, it’s going to happen in the white neighborhoods too.





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