8/25/2012

Notes on Empire State Building shooting

There is a debate over whether the police "may have" accidentally shot some of the nine bystanders who were wounded.  Is it possible that they did accidentally shoot others?  Sure, that may indeed be true.  CNN has this:
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the bystanders were not hit directly by police, but rather the officers' struck "flowerpots and other objects around, so ... their bullets fragmented and, in essence, that's what caused the wounds." . . . 
Six of the wounded were treated and released at hospitals as of Friday evening, while three others remained hospitalized, Kelly said. . . . 
There is indeed the chance that the police shot all nine of the people who were wounded as well as the killer who they killed.  
"We have on tape the perpetrator pulled his gun out and tried to shoot at the cops," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "Whether he got off any bullets or not, to be determined." . . .
People have been writing me drawing the conclusion that this proves that private citizens with permits would also shoot bystanders.  There are a couple reasons for believing that this comparison is not correct.  The first is from the data.  As I have written before: "Nor have I found a single example on record of a multiple-victim public shooting in which a permit holder accidentally shot a bystander."  Second, private citizens are much more wary of using their guns.  Possibly this might be true because they don't have the legal protections that police have.  But accidental shootings by police doesn't imply much of anything for private citizens.

From Fox News:

A laid-off store worker returned to his old job near the Empire State Building and opened fire Friday on a former coworker, killing the employee and wounding several others.  
Authorities said the gunman, identified as 56-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, shot the ex-coworker at close range at a store near the landmark building in Manhattan. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said nine others were also shot, some by the perpetrator and "some may have been shot accidentally by police officers."  
Johnson, who lived in Manhattan, was shot and killed by police, officials said. His 41-year-old former coworker, whose name was not released, died from gunshot wounds to his head. . . . 
The gunman opened fire with a .45-caliber pistol at about 9 a.m. at 10 West 33rd Street, officials said. A construction worker followed Johnson, then spoke to police nearby. . . .
UPDATE: Apparently my inference that the police were responsible for the wounding of all nine civilians is correct.  From Fox News:

The veteran patrolmen who opened fire on the suit-wearing gunman, Jeffrey Johnson, had only an instant to react when he whirled and pointed a .45-caliber pistol as they approached him from behind on a busy sidewalk.
Officer Craig Matthews shot seven times. Officer Robert Sinishtaj fired nine times, police said. Neither had ever fired their weapons before on a patrol.
The volley of gunfire felled Johnson in just a few seconds and left nine other people bleeding on the sidewalk.
In the initial chaos Friday, it wasn't clear whether Johnson or the officers were responsible for the trail of wounded, but based on ballistic and other evidence, "it appears that all nine of the victims were struck either by fragments or by bullets fired by police," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters on Saturday at a community event in Harlem. . . .
For whatever it is worth, this is from the UK Guardian:
. . . . One of those injured by police told the Guardian that officers appeared to fire "randomly" as they confronted Jeffrey Johnson, 58, minutes after a workplace dispute escalated into a chaotic shootout in one of the busiest parts of Manhattan. 
Reports suggest that while Johnson drew his gun when he was confronted by officers, he did not fire; all those injured appear to have been shot by police. The New York police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, said officers had no choice but to act as they did: police discharged 14 rounds and the gunman died at the scene. 
The incident began just after 9am on Friday when Johnson, described as a "disgruntled former employee", walked up to Steve Ercolino, 41, his former manager at Hazan Imports, a business that operates from premises in Midtown, near the Empire State Building. Johnson shot him three times before calmly walking away. . . . .
UPDATE2:  There are a number of times when police have used what might be viewed as excessive force in these encounters.
It was the second time in two weeks that police officers fired fusillades on the crowded streets of Midtown — 28 shots fired between the two episodes — and with it, there were once again questions of police protocol in urban settings. In the first shooting, no bystanders were struck when officers fired 12 shots at a man with a knife just south of Times Square. . . . 
The New York Police Department does include such episodes in its firearms discharge report. In 2010, for example, the police hit three bystanders in a shootout with a gunman; the year before, one bystander was struck when an officer struggled with a suspect who was trying to take his gun, and the gun fired. . . . 

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1 Comments:

Blogger Joshua Tolley said...

I have a hard time taking at face value the comment that police officers appeared to fire "randomly". I suspect it looks very much random when you're taking fire and know very well you're not the intended target. I wonder idly what kind of stressful, live-fire training the NYPD gets, and if Mayor Bloomberg's outspoken opposition to civilian gun ownership affects their training significantly.

8/26/2012 2:43 AM  

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