Acquittal condones unconscionable actions
By biconews On 29 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Katie Antoniades
Guest Columnist

“I ask for your calm and prayer.”

This statement, made by the late Amadou Diallo’s mother after Friday’s acquittal of her son’s killers, is quite admirable coming from the mother of a man who died needlessly and brutally one year ago.

Diallo, a 22-year-old Guinean immigrant, was killed by four police officers. On Feb. 4 of last year, the four men - Sean Carroll, Kenneth Boss, Edward McMellon and Richard Murphy - were patrolling the streets of the Bronx in search of a serial rapist. They spotted Diallo and considered him to be acting “suspiciously.” According to the officers, Diallo ignored their commands and fled. The officers pursued him, and at one point Diallo reached for something in his pocket. The officers - believing him armed - shot at him 41 times.

Of these bullets nineteen entered his body, and the autopsy report provides strong evidence of the officers’ excessive reaction. The cause of death was declared as “multiple gunshot wounds to trunk with perforations of aorta, spinal cord, lungs, liver, spleen, kidney and intestines.”

Diallo did not stand a chance.

It is inconceivable that these four officers were acquitted of charges ranging from criminally negligent homicide (“failing to perceive risk of death”) to second-degree murder. One of the charges, second-degree manslaughter, is defined as “recklessly causing death.” To acquit the officers of this charge is ridiculous. The officers were reckless; they caused Diallo’s death.

It is difficult to understand how the jurors found the police officers’ reaction as anything but appalling. Diallo was an unarmed man - he only carried his wallet, beeper and keys. Had he been armed, however, this violence would still be unnecessary. Any police officer should be able to apprehend an armed man with far fewer than 41 bullets. Not only was the number of bullets fired excessive but, incredibly, the coroner’s testimony indicated that some of the shots hit Diallo when he was already lying on the ground.

Even assuming he did run from the officers, Diallo’s behavior is certainly understandable. He was approached by four armed men without police uniforms - who were driving an unmarked car. As is sadly apparent, his fear would have been justified in this situation.

The officers reacted quickly, which is generally a valuable quality in their line of work. The problem is that they behaved far too impulsively and unprofessionally, and it is terrible that their actions are now condoned by this acquittal.

Protests and acts of civil disobedience have accompanied the trial and will most likely continue. Some speculate that civil suits will occur. Hopefully, justice will then be served. But this country needs much more than that.

Recent events such as the NYPD torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, the “not guilty” verdict in the Rodney King trial and current charges against the LAPD (everything from rape to drug dealing to tampering with evidence) demand a thorough investigation of American police forces. Incidents such as the murder of Amadou Diallo - and the acquittal of his killers - cannot continue.

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