From Sun Feb 27 07:06:23 2000
From: “Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics)” <>
To: “''” <>
Subject: FW: Fury in New York
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2000 14:39:15 -0500

Fury at police shooting verdict

By Michael Ellison in New York, The Guardian, 26 February 2000

Anger spilled on to the streets of New York last night after a jury cleared four white policemen of murdering an unarmed black street trader by firing 41 shots at him from a range of no more than 7ft.

People were arguing in the street where the victim lived and died, screaming out of the windows of their apartments and howling at police helicopters flying overhead.

“They shot the brother down in the street, they murdered him,” said Steve Taylor, one of those milling around on Wheeler Avenue in the Bronx. “I'm hurting right now.”

Another man dashed from a building carrying a child and shouting: “Shoot my baby now, shoot my baby now. He's a black boy, look at him, look at his skin. He's a negro in America.”

A racially mixed jury at the New York state supreme court in Albany cleared the four white officers of the top charge of second-degree murder and five lesser charges, including first-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

The four plainclothes officers of the elite street crime unit all testified that they thought Diallo, 22, was pulling a gun when they saw him standing in his apartment building vestibule in the early hours of February 4 1999. They told the jury that they had acted in self-defence.

Sean Carroll, 37, Kenneth Boss, 28, Edward McMellon and Richard Murphy, both 27, said they realised too late Diallo had been reaching for his wallet, not a weapon. Diallo died after being shot 19 times.

The trial went to the heart of the dispute over law enforcement in a racially diverse city. It was moved to the state capital of Albany, 150 miles north of New York City, because it was ruled that the officers could not be sure of a fair trial in the Bronx because of protests and publicity.

The Rev Al Sharpton, the black activist who orchestrated demonstrations against the police after Diallo was killed a year ago, said last night: “We had no chance here of real justice. This is not the end. This is the beginning.

“We said from the beginning that we would pursue this in the federal courts. We will not rest until we get justice.”

Diallo's mother, Kadiatou, said: “The killing of Amadou was wrong. I want to be able to pursue that.”

Mr Sharpton called on protesters to make their way to the Bronx but said: “Let not one brick be thrown. Let not one bottle be thrown. Let not the violence come from us.”

The mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, who was criticised at the time of the shooting for maintaining his normal policy of supporting the police at all times, said: “The death of Amadou Diallo was a great tragedy and once again we express our profound sympathy, condolences and support to the Diallo family.

“We also express our sympathy in the strongest terms to the four police officers in this case who have also gone though a nightmare.

“Any fair-minded observer of the trial would have to say that it was an eminently fair trial under very difficult circumstances.”

But some lawyers believed that the prosecution did not press its case hard enough, in particular failing to cross-examine the final witness, an expert on police procedure who said that the officers had acted correctly.

The trial was looked upon as a test of the zero tolerance policing that has driven down crime in New York—but at the price of perceived discrimination. Murders have fallen sharply, from 2,245 in 1990 to 667 last year. The policy of frisking people in high crime areas—which usually have a high proportion of ethnic minorities—has led to persis tent accusations of racial bias.

Brian O'Dwyer, a legal expert, said he was not surprised at the verdict: “I think there was no chance of a murder conviction as it came down.” The turning point, he said, was when Carroll, the oldest of the officers and one of two who fired all 16 bullets from his 9mm handgun, broke down while giving evidence.

“I think the jury felt with this officer and decided that no punishment was appropriate. He was not swaggering as some policemen are on the stand,” he added.