A police shooting incident near Times Square back in September, has led to a unique legal situation where an unarmed man who never laid a hand on anyone is charged with hurting innocent bystanders.
On September 14 of this year, New York Police Department officers fired shots at a man named Glenn Broadnax, a disturbed man who had thrown himself into traffic and was creating a disturbance. The cops missed their target and hit two female pedestrians. The New York Times reports that Broadnax, 35, is now being charged "on the theory that he was responsible for bullet wounds suffered by two bystanders," because he created the situation that led to their injuries. He was previously charged with menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest.
The argument is not unlike the way perps are charged in police chases where third parties are injured. (Civil liability is a different subject). The assistant district attorney in the case said that Broadnax, "is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders."
The Broadnax's case is getting a bit more attention because there have already been debates about whether the NYPD has been doing more harm than good in shoot-out situations. Earlier in the year, nine bystanders were hit outside the Empire State Building when police attempted to apprehend a gunman. All nine were shot by police bullets. There have been similar cases elsewhere, like the LAPD's mistakes in the Chris Dorner manhunt, where officers opened fire on two older Latina women in a blue car that didn't even match the vehicle Dorner was allegedly driving.
A 2008 study found that NYPD who fired their weapons hit the target just 30 percent of the time. The number plummets even further at night or when the officers are also being fired upon.
Broadnax's lawyer says he was the victim in the incident and alleges that police were wrong in using deadly force to apprehend her client. "There's video shot by bystanders in Times Square which show my client not being violent and not being aggressive, in fact running around disoriented and scared," Broadnax's attorney, Rigodis Appling, said. Broadnax was eventually brought down by a taser, not a gun.
It also seems like at least one of the bystanders is on Broadnax's side. "It’s an incredibly unfortunate use of prosecutorial discretion to be prosecuting a man who didn’t even injure my client. It’s the police who injured my client," Mariann Wang, a lawyer representing one of the bystanders said. She wants charges filed against the officers.
The Manhattan District Attorney's Office is reviewing the shooting and the actions of the police officers involved, the AP reported. Both have been placed on administrative duty, pending the ongoing investigation.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.