NYC Mayor: Diallo Trial Was Fair
NEW YORK (AP) _ Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Saturday that the trial of four police officers who killed an unarmed West African immigrant was fair, and he suggested that critics review a videotape of the proceedings.
``I hear people saying the same things after the verdict as before, as if the trial didn’t take place, as if the truth didn’t come out,″ Giuliani said during a news conference.
``We need some of them to back off a little, to say `Maybe we were wrong in rushing to judgment before we had a trial,‴ he said.
Giuliani said he watched much of the televised trial _ which ended Friday with the officers acquitted of all charges _ and believes that the facts of Amadou Diallo’s shooting were presented fairly before a jury that was mixed racially. Eight of the jurors were white and four were black.
The four officers, who fired 41 bullets into the vestibule of Diallo’s apartment building Feb. 4, 1999, hitting him 19 times, testified that they thought Diallo had a gun.
``I feel terrible for the Diallo family,″ Giuliani said. ``But I also have strong feelings about what was done to the police officers in this case.″
The police could do a better job of understanding the cultural differences in a city with ``the most diverse population in the world,″ he said, but added, no one else has ever done the job better.
``That doesn’t mean they don’t make terrible, horrific mistakes,″ Giuliani said. ``It doesn’t mean some of them aren’t criminals who have to go to jail.″
After the verdict was read, hundreds of protesters gathered in front of Diallo’s apartment building, some yelling ``Murderers!″ and other complaining that the verdicts told police that violence against blacks and Hispanics would go unpunished. Fifteen protesters were arrested.