The 4th of February makes the 20th year that Amadou Diallo was shot and he became a victim of injustice and police brutality.
I ought to have shared this piece but due to the clash of yesterday being “World Cancer Day”, I have to postponed this article till today.
Anywhere, no matter how it is, it is important that this culled article is presented to all my viewers, followers and readers at this moment.
It goes thus:
WHO IS AMADOU DIALLO?
One of four children of Saikou and Kadijatou Diallo, Amadou’s family is part of an old Fulbe trading family in Guinea. He was born in Sinoe County, Liberia, on September 2, 1975 while his father was working there, and grew up following his family to Togo, Bangkok and Singapore, attending schools in Thailand, and later in Guinea. In September 1996, he came to New York City where other family members had immigrated. He and a cousin started a business. According to his family’s lawyer, Kyle B. Watters, he sought to remain in the United States by filing an application for political asylum under false pretenses, saying that he was from Mauritania and that his parents had been killed in fighting to buttress his claim that he had credible fear of going back to his country. He worked as a street peddler, selling videotapes, gloves and socks from the sidewalk along 14th Street during the day.
EVENT OF FEBRUARY 4TH 1999
The shooting of Amadou Diallo occurred on February 4, 1999, when Amadou Diallo, a 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea, was shot and killed by four New York City Police Department plain-clothed officers—Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon and Kenneth Boss—after they mistook him for a rape suspect from one year earlier. The officers fired a combined total of 41 shots, 19 of which struck Diallo, outside his apartment at 1157 Wheeler Avenue in the Soundview section of The Bronx. The four were part of the now-defunct Street Crimes Unit. All four officers were charged with second-degree murder and acquitted at trial in Albany, New York.
Diallo was unarmed, and a firestorm of controversy erupted subsequent to the event as the circumstances of the shooting prompted outrage both within and outside New York City. Issues such as police brutality, racial profiling, and contagious shooting were central to the ensuing controversy
In the early morning of February 4, 1999, Diallo was standing near his building after returning from a meal. At about 12:40 a.m., police officers Edward McMellon, Sean Carroll, Kenneth Boss and Richard Murphy, who were all in street clothes, passed by in a Ford Taurus. Caroll later testified that Diallo matched the general description of a serial rapist who had struck a year earlier, or that he might have been a “lookout”.
The officers testified that they loudly identified themselves as NYPD officers, but a witness, Schrrie Elliott, testified that they started shooting without any warnings. Diallo ran up the outside steps toward his apartment house doorway at their approach, ignoring their orders to stop and “show his hands”. The porch lightbulb was out and Diallo was backlit by the inside vestibule light, showing only a silhouette. Diallo then reached into his jacket and withdrew his wallet. Seeing the man holding a small square object, Carroll yelled “Gun!” to alert his colleagues. The officers opened fire on Diallo, claiming that they believed he was holding a gun. During the shooting, lead officer McMellon tripped backward off the front stairs, causing the other officers to believe he had been shot. The four officers fired 41 shots with semi-automatic weapons, more than half of which went astray as Diallo was hit 19 times.
The post-shooting investigation found no weapons on Diallo’s body; the item he had pulled out of his jacket was not a gun, but a rectangular black wallet. The internal NYPD investigation ruled the officers had acted within policy, based on what a reasonable police officer would have done in the same circumstances with the information they had. The Diallo shooting led to a review of police training policy and the use of full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets. On March 25, 1999, a Bronx grand jury indicted the four officers on charges of second-degree murder and reckless endangerment. All four officers’ bail were set at $100,000. On December 16, an appellate court ordered a change of venue to Albany, New York, stating that pretrial publicity had made a fair trial in New York City impossible. On February 25, 2000, after two days of deliberation, a jury in Albany acquitted the officers of all charges. Officer Kenneth Boss had been previously involved in an incident where an unarmed man was shot. Another black man, 22-year-old Patrick Bailey, died after Boss shot him on October 31, 1997.As of 2012, Boss is the only remaining officer working for the NYPD. After his acquittal, Boss was disarmed and reassigned to desk duty. In October 2012, Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly restored Boss’ ability to carry a firearm against the protests of Diallo’s family. On December 17, 2015, Kenneth Boss, received a promotion to the rank of sergeant despite objections from the victim’s mother and civil rights activists. Boss was promoted in accordance to police policy, which is not subject to review by top department officials.
AFTERMATH OF HIS DEATH
On April 18, 2000, Diallo’s mother, Kadijatou, and his father Saikou Diallo, filed a US$61,000,000 ($20m plus $1m for each shot fired) lawsuit against the city and the officers, charging gross negligence, wrongful death, racial profiling, and other violations of Diallo’s civil rights. In March 2004, they accepted a US$3,000,000 settlement. The much lower final settlement was still reportedly one of the largest in the City of New York for a single man with no dependents under New York State’s “wrongful death law”, which limits damages to pecuniary loss by the deceased person’s next of kin.
Anthony H. Gair, lead counsel for the Diallo family, argued that Federal common law should apply, pursuant to Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act. In April 2002, as a result of the killing of Diallo and other controversial actions, the Street Crime Unit was disbanded. In 2003, Diallo’s mother, Kadiatou Diallo, published a memoir, My Heart Will Cross This Ocean: My Story, My Son, Amadou (ISBN 0-345-45600-9), with the help of author Craig Wolff. Diallo’s death became an issue in the 2005 mayoral election in New York City. Bronx borough president and mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer, who had protested the circumstances of the killing at the time, later told a meeting of police sergeants that although the shooting had certainly been a tragedy, there was subsequently a move to “over-indict” the officers involved, which led to criticism of Ferrer by the Diallo family and many others following the case.
The event spurred subsequent social psychology research. A number of experiments have been conducted with both undergraduate volunteers and police officers playing a computer game where they must choose whether to shoot or not to shoot a target who may be white or black, on the basis of whether or not they are armed. Such studies find that participants made slower and less accurate decisions on whether to shoot an unarmed black target than an unarmed white target, and were quicker and more likely to correctly decide to shoot an armed black target than an armed white target. The authors of one study wrote that the shooting studies “provide powerful evidence that racial stereotypes create associations and expectations that play a role in the sort of split-second decisions that may literally be a matter of life or death.” However, no correlations have been found between participants’ indicated levels of racial bias, and their performance in the games.
On March 13, 2015, Capital New York and other news organizations reported that 50 of the 15,000 IP addresses belonging to the NYPD were associated with edits, dating back to 2006, to English Wikipedia articles, including this article on the Amadou Diallo shooting. These IP addresses geolocate to NYPD headquarters at 1 Police Plaza. Detective Cheryl Crispin, a NYPD spokeswoman, said that “the matter is under internal review.”
Amadou Diallo is buried in the village of Hollande Bourou in the Fouta Djallon region of Guinea, West Africa, where his extended family resides.
May his soul rest in peace.