Fighting for an Innocent Death The four police officers acquitted of killing Amadou Diallo on the streets of the Bronx in New York should have been found guilty of second-degree murder. Edward McMellon, Sean Carroll, Kenneth Boss, and Richard Murphy are each part of the elite Street Crime Unit of the New York City Police Department. McMellon, Boss, and Carroll each have had previous investigations for using their weapons while on duty. Amadou Diallo was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Forty-one shots were fired at Diallo and nineteen actually struck him. He was an unarmed man and Dr. Joseph Cohen concluded after his autopsy "Diallo was paralyzed by one of the first shots, and based on the bullet paths, three hit Diallo after he was down" (Grace).
On February 4, 1999 just after midnight Amadou Diallo, an unarmed, innocent man was murdered in front of his apartment building by four New York City Police officers.
The officers identified themselves and when Diallo reached in his back pocket to pull out what eventually was found to be a mere wallet the four police officers opened fire. Carroll shouted "Gun!" then he and McMellon immediately started shooting and each emptied their sixteen round clips into the body of a 22-year-old immigrant form Guinea. In a period of approximately eight seconds all forty-one shots were fired, and like an animal Diallo was killed, in front of his apartment-his sanctuary. Amadou Diallo was a street peddler who sold anything from socks to videotapes. He was a "shy, soft spoken man" with no criminal record (Robinson). Diallo was in the United States legally on a work visa, which would have expired in April of 1999.
After the execution ended, Carroll went to inspect the already deceased body of Amadou Diallo. When he saw there was no gun he immediately began to administer CPR pleading "Don't die! Don't die!" (qtd. in Morganthau). Tom Morganthau author of the article in NewsWeek "Cops in the Crossfire", summed it up best when he said, "Diallo was doomed from the moment the officers got out of the car" (2). These four police officers used unnecessary force. "Neighbors even testified there was a split-second pause in the long sequence of gunshots." (Morganthau) Did these trigger-happy cops take a moment to reconsider their decision to open fire on Diallo? Yes, they knew immediately how wrong the shooting was and they knew they were guilty of manslaughter. Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson said "Officers 'mistakes, their misjudgments, their preconceptions, led to a violent and horrible death of an innocent person'" (qtd. in De La Cruz).
All four police officers have told reporters and attorneys how desperately terrible they felt. Remorse does not bring a young innocent man back to life, however, and justice has not been obtained. Carroll, Boss, McMellon, and Murphy each should have been found guilty of second degree murder. Affirmative action groups demand justice along with Saikou and Kadiatou Diallo Amadou's parents. "Under the law, the officers were justified in shooting if they thought Diallo had a gun, even if they were wrong" (Morganthau).
Defenders say McMellon, Carroll, Boss, and Murphy were justified in shooting Amadou Diallo because he could have fit the description of the Bronx Rapist. Yet "there was no call to Diallo's apartment building on Wheeler Avenue and that address wasn't the location of any previous attacks by the alleged rapist" (Allen, Burke, etcÃ¢ÂÂ¦). They also argue that according to the four police officers Diallo reached for something that could have been a gun. Yet knowing the sea of racial inequality Diallo panicked and for that and that alone Diallo was shot nineteen times. He was murdered for being frightened of four police officers approaching him in the middle of the night when he was alone. Amadou Diallo did not do anything wrong. His life and death deserves justice. His parents do have the opportunity to pursue a civil law suit.
The communities of African-Americans and some Hispanic were outraged by the final verdict. They were astounded at the fact that the four police officers, all of whom were white, were acquitted. There was little protest among these communities due in part because of Diallo's mother Kadiatou who made a public plea for peace. A civil lawsuit against the police officers could cost taxpayers millions of dollars, but that will never be to high of a price to pay for the loss of a son, friend, and generally innocent person. Outside the funeral Muhammed aide to the leader, Louis Farrakhan said, "This is a time for the masses to rise up in self defense. It is time to speak the language of those whose language is killing, maiming, lynching and genocide. This is a time of war and a time of peace, a time to heal and a time to kill. There's medicine in the murder and healing in the killing" (qtd. in Allen, Connor, etcÃ¢ÂÂ¦).
Sources Allen, Angela C., Tracy Connor and Ikimulis Sockwell, "A Family's Grief Angry Criers for Justice at Cop-Victim Memorial." New York Post. 13 Feb. 1999. NewsBank NewsFile Collection: Record Display. Internet. NewsBank. March 2000.
Burke, Cathy. "Cops Gun Down Unarmed Man." New York Post. 5 Feb. 1999. NewsBank NewsFile Collection: Record Display. Internet. NewsBank. March 2000.
De La Cruz, Donna. "Diallo DA Defends Handling of Case." Associated Press. 14 March 2000.
http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/xnyap/20000302/lo/20000302019.html "Diallo Autopsy Graphics." The Amadou Diallo Shooting Trial. CourtTV On Line. 14 March 2000.
Wysiwyg://9/http://www.courttv.com/national/diallo/autopsyphoto.html Grace, Melissa. "Police fired on a downed man, doctor testifies." The Times Union. 09 Feb.
2000. NewsBank NewsFile Collection: Record Display. Internet. NewsBank. March 2000.
Morganthau, Tom. "Cops in the Crossfire." NewsWeek. 29 Feb. 2000.
Wysiwyg://14/http://www.newsweek.comÃ¢ÂÂ¦/printed/us/na/a16813-2000feb27.htm Robinson, Bryan. "A Look at the Parties in the Diallo Shooting Case." CourtTv Online. 14 March 2000.