NYC Cops Charged in Shooting Death
NEW YORK (AP) _ Four white police officers who killed an unarmed African immigrant in a fusillade of 41 bullets were charged with second-degree murder in an indictment unsealed today.
Dressed in business suits, officers Kenneth Boss, Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon and Richard Murphy appeared in state court in the Bronx and entered innocent pleas. They could get 25 years to life in prison on the murder charges.
Diallo, a street vendor from Guinea, was shot 19 times shortly after midnight Feb. 4 in his vestibule by members of an elite street crime unit who were looking for a rape suspect.
Lawyers for the officers, who face other charges as well as murder, said their clients thought Diallo was reaching for a gun.
The case has touched off daily protests and strained relations between City Hall and police on the one side and members of the black community on the other. Hundreds have been arrested in the daily protests outside police headquarters.
Diallo’s father, Saikou, and mother, Kadiadou, stared straight ahead during the court proceeding.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir have been assailed by protesters who say they have ignored the shooting. Earlier in the day, while the two were at a tribute to an officer killed in 1996, Safir said he hoped justice would take its course.
``We grieve for Amadou Diallo and the four officers involved and pray they get a fair trial,″ Safir said.
Scores of uniformed officers were stationed outside the courthouse and police barricades ringed the block to corral onlookers and hundreds of demonstrators.
Chanting ``No justice. No peace,″ many protesters carried signs calling for the officers’ arrest. ``It’s a crime, not a tragedy,″ read one sign.