Justice for Reynaldo Cuevas

Where are the Hispanic leaders who should be demanding justice for Reynaldo Cuevas and his family?

Reynaldo Cuevas, 20, was shot to death by a police officer last September. The officer mistook him for a burglar who was robbing the Queens bodega where Cuevas worked.

If Cuevas had been a police officer or someone from a wealthy family, politicians throughout the city would have called for justice and a trial.

But those Cuevas left behind—his friends, family and neighbors who have organized marches and candlelight vigils—aren’t getting any help from their leaders. They don’t even have the consolation of knowing that the circumstances that cut his life short will be carefully considered.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson decided a few days ago not to charge Officer Ramysh Bangali for Cuevas’ death. Rather than that, the shooting mistake was called an accident and the guilty ones will be the burglars for setting up the situation that caused the shooting.

What type of message does Johnson’s decision send the officers who respond to criminal incidents every day with their guns in hand? What message does it send to the youths and families who expect justice?

About Johnson’s decision, most leaders didn’t even say “I’m sorry.” The death of Cuevas simply didn’t make their lists of press releases and conferences.

The same type of silence surrounds the death of Noel Polanco, the 22-year-old national guard shot in October by another police officer during a traffic stop in Queens. The officer, Hassan Hamdy, was also not indicted.

Our leaders must remain watchful and denounce police practices that contradict the mission of law enforcement agencies.

Cuevas’ death deserves a trial and a review of police practices. This obviously won’t happen unless community leaders urge the authorities to do it. Who fights for the lives of the Cuevas and the Polancos, those who are dying at the hands of the ones supposed to protect them?