Cops May Have Been Responsible for All Bystander Injuries Near Empire State Building
Though it was far from the only shooting in the U.S. over the past few days, the shoot-out outside the Empire State Building has dominated headlines over the past 24 hours. As more details come out about the incident, we're learning more and more about what exactly went down. One of the latest revelations is that NYPD officers -- notthe 58-year-old gunman -- may have been responsible for all of nine bystander injuries.
"We have on tape the perpetrator pulled his gun out and tried to shoot at the cops," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "Whether he got off any bullets or not, to be determined."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the bystanders were not hit directly by police, but rather the officers' struck "flowerpots and other objects around, so ... their bullets fragmented and, in essence, that's what caused the wounds."
Earlier Friday, Bloomberg told reporters that some of the wounded may have been inadvertently hit in the crossfire or by ricocheting bullets.
But as Salon's Natasha Lennard notes, there are some discrepencies with that report:
According to the New York Times, “A law enforcement official said later on Friday that Mr. Johnson did not fire his weapon at the officers.” This runs counter to earlier reports and statements from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly who both said the police were returning fire. This also suggests that all bystanders may have been struck by police bullets.
Lennard also puts this latest NYC shooting in context:
Like the incident earlier this month in Times Square, the shooting has prompted questions about police operation of firearms; in both cases multiple rounds were used to take down and kill one assailant. And although these incidents in two of the city’s busiest tourist areas provide headline-grabbing news, for many New Yorkers, police-involved shootings are less uncommon. Notably, in February police shot unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham in his Bronx home; the shooting officer has been indicted on manslaughter, not murder charges.
Whatever happened in midtown Manhattan yesterday, it's a reminder (one we've gotten all too frequently lately) that gun violence will continue to be a major problem in this country until we do something about our laws.