Just How Many Bystanders Did New York Police Shoot?

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Update: The Guardian is reporting that the nine bystanders who were shot (that didn't include the shooter's target) were all shot by police, and that Jeffrey Johnson never fired on police.

The most disturbing detail about Friday's fatal shooting in Midtown Manhattan is the fact that the wounded included bystanders shot by police, and the latest news suggests stray police bullets may account for "most or all" of those wounded. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirmed that at least some of the injuries came from stray police bullets as cops opened fire on the gunman who aimed at them, but the police haven't said how many. Rather, that detail comes from the math reporters are doing with the number of rounds police have confirmed were fired.

Fortunately, most of the injuries were minor. As one victim who as hit in the arm told The New York Times: "I guess, you know, stuff happens."

The Times' James Barron and David Halbfinger and William K. Rashbaum introduced the arithmetic reporting: "Some of those injured might have been shot by the two police officers, who fired 16 rounds at the gunman, Jeffrey Johnson 58, said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly — based on the number of people shot and the fact that Mr. Johnson’s gun held only eight rounds." The New York Times Metro twitter account followed up with this accounting: "Johnson had 8 bullets max. Shot 5 at [victim Steve] Ercolino, 2 left in gun, 1 unfired on ground," suggesting that the only ones Johnson fired were at his intended victim -- although that doesn't necessarily mean all of them found their mark.

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Reuters' Lily Kuo is reporting eight bystanders were wounded in total, not nine. But if The Times' figures about the bullets are accurate, the total number of injured wouldn't affect the story that police bullets accounted for all injuries, because all of Johnson's bullets would be accounted for. The problem is, the available information keeps changing. Earlier in the day, The Associated Press and others were reporting that Johnson only fired three shots at Ercolino, not five, which would have two of his rounds unaccounted for. The AP's report now says five. Based on the latest information from The Times, however, and a little math, it looks like stray police bullets are to blame for most, if not all of the injured bystanders.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.