On September 30, I posted “New York City Police Shoot Up The Citizenry Again,” which chronicled the misadventures of several police officer who, in trying to subdue an unarmed, emotionally disturbed man–one Glenn Broadnax–shot two female bystanders, one of whom was using a walker. Did I need to tell you that they shot her in the leg? Did I also need to tell you that the emotionally disturbed man was, apparently, not hit?
There is a new, and even more absurd development in this case. Scott Shackford at Reason.com has the story:
Even though Broadnax was not armed, an indictment unsealed Wednesday is charging him with assault for the injuries caused by police gunfire. From the New York Times:
The man, Glenn Broadnax, 35, of Brooklyn, created a disturbance on Sept. 14, wading into traffic at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue and throwing himself into the path of oncoming cars.
A curious crowd grew. Police officers arrived and tried to corral Mr. Broadnax, a 250-pound man. When he reached into his pants pocket, two officers, who, the police said, thought he was pulling a gun, opened fire, missing Mr. Broadnax, but hitting two nearby women. Finally, a police sergeant knocked Mr. Broadnax down with a Taser. …
Yes, you’re right. The officers probably should have thought of the taser first, but let’s return to the story where things are morphing into a bad Twilight Zone episode:
Initially Mr. Broadnax was arrested on misdemeanor charges of menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest. But the Manhattan district attorney’s office persuaded a grand jury to charge Mr. Broadnax with assault, a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years. Specifically, the nine-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday said Mr. Broadnax ‘recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.’
‘The defendant is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders,’ said an assistant district attorney, Shannon Lucey.
Broadnax was taken to Bellevue Hospital after they got him down and told police he was hearing voices of dead relatives and was trying to commit suicide. But a psychologist has nevertheless found him competent to stand trial.
Is this sort of thing usual? I’m afraid not. It is not unusual for criminals to be charged with murder, for example, if during the commission of a felony, one of their fellow crooks is killed by the police, but to charge someone obviously mentally impaired when the police mistakenly shoot two bystanders?
The news accounts of the original incident are not sufficiently detailed to tell me whether the officers were justified in shooting. One does not shoot unless they are certain they are facing an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death. People reach into their pockets all the time for a variety of reasons. Someone being approached by police officers might reach for his identification, anticipating they will be asked for it. Simply reaching for a pocket does not provide justification for shooting. The police are expected to be sufficiently well trained and experienced to be able to wait an extra few fractions of a second to understand without question that they are or are not facing a deadly threat. “Maybe” just doesn’t cut it. If they can’t or won’t do this, they belong in another line of work because they are going to, sooner or later, shoot up innocent women in walkers.
News accounts suggest that Broadnax was shot as he was reaching into his pocket, or moments after removing his empty hand from the pocket. At least one account suggested that someone in the crowd surrounding the officers (yes, that’s not a good thing either) yelled “gun!” as some point, but it does seem that not only were the officers lacking in tactical sense, they were trigger-happy, and displayed the marksmanship for which the NPYD is becoming justly infamous. Take the link at the top of this article for links to three other articles that explain why NYPD officers are going to continue to shoot the innocent. The original explains how to fix the problem.
Back to the Reason article:
One of the women shot by the police is absolutely not having it:
Mariann Wang, a lawyer representing Sahar Khoshakhlagh, one of the women who was wounded, said the district attorney should be pursuing charges against the two officers who fired their weapons in a crowd, not against Mr. Broadnax. ‘It’s an incredibly unfortunate use of prosecutorial discretion to be prosecuting a man who didn’t even injure my client,’ she said. ‘It’s the police who injured my client.
Quite so, Ms. Wang. Quite so.
The indispensable Mark Steyn gets to the heart of the matter:
Ah, yes: the ‘situation’ injured the innocent bystanders. If you outlaw guns, only situations will have guns.
The defendant is looking at 25 years in jail for the crime of provoking law enforcement into shooting random citizens. If this flies in New York, then there is no law.
Law in NYC is whatever the Mayor says it is. Hasn’t it always been thus?