On September 14, Glenn Broadnax, 35, allegedly jumped in front of cars in New York’s Time Square. He was reportedly disoriented and, according to his counsel, was communicating with dead relatives in his mind. However, two police officials feared that the unarmed Broadnax was reaching for a weapon. They responded with a barrage of gunfire that cut down two bystanders. Now, prosecutors have charged Broadnax with assault for the shootings by the police officers on the theory that “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.”
The New York police have been previously criticized for the use of lethal force in crowded areas including the prior case where nine innocent people were shoot by New York police. It is a pattern that puts into sharp relief a country like Iceland where officers this week killed the first person in the country’s history in a police raid and only after he wounded two officers.
In this case, the officer fired when Broadnax put his hands in his pocket. Many question that response and the danger created to bystanders. However, police blame Broadnax for their actions. Thus, not only are police not liable or disciplined for the use of force, but they can charge the suspect with their alleged excessive response.
Broadnax was never hit. Instead, the officers hit two women standing nearby. He was brought down with a taser.
Notably, Broadnax was arrested on misdemeanor charges of menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest. However, because the police responded to an unarmed man with lethal force, he is facing a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years as part of a nine-count indictment.
Counsel for one of the victims Sahar Khoshakhlagh has gone public to denounce the charge and say that it is the officers who should be criminally charged and that this is an abuse of prosecutorial discretion [in] prosecuting a man who didn’t even injure my client . . . It’s the police who injured my client.”
The video below shows how crowded the area was when officers fired their shots. The charges in my view are excessive in these circumstances and raise serious implications in future cases of abusive conduct. It is true that criminal law has allowed for defendants to bear the consequences of their crimes where they lead to injuries or deaths, particularly in felony murder cases where you do not have to actually pull the trigger to be held for the fatalities. However, this was an unarmed man with police acting in a way that was highly questionable. Rather than recognize the disconnect between the man conduct and the police response, prosecutors appear to want to establish that it was his fault and not the police for the shootings.
What do you think?
Source: New York Times