Activists are condemning state troopers in upstate New York, accusing them of over policing Black residents after an 11-year-old girl was killed in a pursuit.
Monica Goods, 11, of Brooklyn died December 22 when her family’s car was chased and rammed by a New York State Trooper in Ulster County, NY, about two hours north of New York City. Activists said Tuesday (June 22) that the tragedy was in line with overly aggressive police tactics used against Black residents in the area.
The New York Daily News reports that in the months leading up to the crash that killed Goods, state police and local cops in the upstate NY cities of Kingston and Ulster had responded to aspate of shootings with a campaign of aggressive traffic stops. Activists say that the stops were focused on the predominantly Black neighborhood Midtown Kingston.
“It was this over-policing that spilled over into what happened with Monica,” Anne Ames, 20, a Midtown Kingston resident told the Daily News. “There was no need for it to go that far.
“With this hyper-policing stuff going on, I can’t speak to the officer’s mind. But there’s this need [by police] to control people’s bodies,” Ames continued.
When describing the incident, Monica’s father Tristin Goods, 39, told the Daily News that State Trooper Christopher Baldner stopped his car for speeding on Interstate 87 between Ulster and Kingston. Goods said Baldner asked if he had “guns or drugs” in the SUV, and then pepper-sprayed him, his wife, and his daughters Monica, 11, and Tristina, 12. Goods said he drove off instinctively, to ensure his and his family’s safety.
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According to Middletown, N.Y., newspaper the Times Herald-Record, Baldner gave chase and rammed Goods’ 2017 Dodge Journey from behind, forcing it over a guardrail. Monica died in the crash.
“It is just so hurtful. The guy was crazy,” Goods said about Baldner. “It’s illegal what he did.”
New York State Police spokesman William Duffy said there was no connection between Goods’ death and “any law enforcement initiatives in Kingston.” Duffy also said that the officer under investigation for Goods’ death, State Trooper Christopher Baldner, “was on regular patrol that night, and was not assigned to any operation.”
According to the Daily News, Baldner is on desk duty while the state Attorney General’s office investigates Goods’ death. The state police are also conducting an internal probe.
According to police figures, there were 1,329 traffic stops in Kingston between August and October, 6% of the city’s 23,000 residents. Although census figures show that only 14% of Kingston’s residents are Black, 36% of those stopped were people of color.
Shannon Wong, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union’s Hudson Valley Chapter, says that her organization has received a series of complaints from residents saying they were stopped because of their race.
“There’s no way a traffic stop should have led to this girl’s death — but traffic stops have been used in the past by police to harass, intimidate and in this case inflict fatal violence,” Wong said. “The police are the escalators in chief. Many people were speeding on the New York State Thruway in that hour, but the police stopped this particular family and assumed there were guns and drugs in the car. If they had stopped someone who was not Black or brown, I doubt it would have gone that way.”