Police Shoot at Unarmed Man; Charge Him for Bystanders They Hit

A man the New York Times claims was “emotionally disturbed,” was shot at by police.

The man, Glenn Broadnax, 35, of Brooklyn, created a disturbance on Sept. 14, wading into traffic at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue and throwing himself into the path of oncoming cars.

A curious crowd grew. Police officers arrived and tried to corral Mr. Broadnax, a 250-pound man. When he reached into his pants pocket, two officers, who, the police said, thought he was pulling a gun, opened fire, missing Mr. Broadnax, but hitting two nearby women. Finally, a police sergeant knocked Mr. Broadnax down with a Taser.

Naturally, there cops have not been charged with anything. They are place on “administrative leave.” Since nothing is said to the contrary, I assume that means a free paid vacation.

Initially Mr. Broadnax was arrested on misdemeanor charges of menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest. But the Manhattan district attorney’s office persuaded a grand jury to charge Mr. Broadnax with assault, a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years. Specifically, the nine-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday said Mr. Broadnax “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.”

“The defendant is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders,” said an assistant district attorney, Shannon Lucey.

The lawyer for Broadnax says that he was reaching for his wallet and never imagined his actions could “cause” the police to shoot at him. But that is really irrelevant. If the police have the right to spray bullets any time anyone does not comply with them, then I guess there is no misdemeanor that cannot also become a serious felony. All cop shootings are justified and all wrongful injuries or deaths are now assigned to the police officer’s target.

At least one of the women who was shot is not buying the prosecutor’s reasoning.

Mariann Wang, a lawyer representing Sahar Khoshakhlagh, one of the women who was wounded, said the district attorney should be pursuing charges against the two officers who fired their weapons in a crowd, not against Mr. Broadnax. “It’s an incredibly unfortunate use of prosecutorial discretion to be prosecuting a man who didn’t even injure my client,” she said. “It’s the police who injured my client.”

Sidenote: a friend of mine who belongs to a gun club says that when cops show up at the range they are known for their inaccuracy. But he points out they aren’t paid enough to reasonably afford bullets for practice. I would be happy to support an initiative that gave police officers free ammunition for that purpose if it also required practice time as a condition of continued employment. As much as I don’t want cops shooting more than they have to, I also don’t want them to miss and hurt or kill bystanders.