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Victim of N.Y. Attack Still Refuses to Cooperate

January 04, 1987|Associated Press

NEW YORK — A black man who survived a deadly racial attack by a white gang stuck to his refusal to cooperate with prosecutors Saturday, saying investigators were not interested in hearing his side of the story.

"They only wanted to hear part of it and not all of it," Cedric Sandiford, 36, said during a two-hour news conference at a Harlem church. "So I decided to discontinue this masquerade."

Sandiford said he would cooperate only with a special prosecutor, and called on Gov. Mario M. Cuomo to appoint one.

Sandiford's stepson, Michael Griffith, 23, was struck by a car and killed while fleeing the gang of whites that attacked as the black men left a pizza parlor in Howard Beach, Queens, on Dec. 20. Sandiford and Timothy Grimes, 19, escaped.

Drops Murder Charges

Three white youths were arrested in the attack, but Queens Criminal Court Judge Ernest Bianchi on Monday dropped murder charges against them for lack of evidence after Sandiford refused to testify.

The attack heightened racial tensions in the city, sparking attacks by black gangs that police described as retaliation.

Sandiford's lawyer, Alton Maddox Jr., said his client believes that the driver of the car that hit Griffith was part of the mob and ran him down intentionally.

Maddox has demanded that charges be lodged against the man, Dominick Blum, 24, before Sandiford cooperates with prosecutors.

Police have said their investigation indicates that Blum, a court officer and the son of a police officer, had nothing to do with the mob, and he has not been charged.

Intend to Use Incident

Sandiford on Saturday did not specify his allegations against Blum, and Maddox refused to let Sandiford answer questions.

Maddox and Grimes' lawyer, C. Vernon Mason, said Saturday they intend to use the incident to spur political and economic advancement for black people.

"This is a historic occasion," Maddox told the audience at the Abyssinian Baptist Church. "It is a day that long will be remembered in the lives of our people in their quest for liberation and freedom."

Maddox and Mason berated politicians, police, prosecutors and reporters, saying they perpetuated a racist system that denies justice to blacks.

Cuomo, meanwhile, has asked Deputy Atty. Gen. Charles J. Hynes, the special state prosecutor for corruption in the criminal justice system, to investigate the lawyers' charges of official misconduct in the case.

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