Two innocent bystanders were shot by police near Times Square in New York City on Saturday night as the officers fired at a mentally disturbed man who was possibly trying to be run over by cars because, as is common knowledge, the best way to deal with a despondent, and most likely suicidal individual, is to kill them, or better yet, to try to kill them; but miss and instead injure people who are just minding their own business.
The incident occurred in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Glenn Broadnax was allegedly running out into traffic, presumably in an attempt to be hit by cars. At one point he even lay down in the middle of the street. Responding officers approached him after he appeared to have been hit by a taxi , and was attempting to speak to the driver. At that point Broadnax made a “finger gun” at the police, and the officers shot at him three times when he made the gesture, because that is a perfectly reasonable reaction in that situation, especially in a crowded street. All three shots missed Broadnax; however, a 54-year-old woman was struck in the knee, and a 35-year-old woman was hit in the buttock. Fortunately, Broadnax was subdued with a taser before he could injure anyone with his finger. No other weapons were found on the suspect.
At a press conference at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, where Broadnax was taken after the incident, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said that the mentally disturbed man had not actually been struck by any vehicles. The police aim to file a slew of charges against him, including possession of a controlled substance, and riot (really? I thought by definition one cannot riot alone). The two victims did not sustain life-threatening injuries. The 35-year-old was treated overnight, and then released. The 54-year-old; however, will have to undergo surgery because of the severity of her wound.
Commissioner Kelly has disclosed that one of the police officers that shot the innocent bystanders has been with the department for three years, and the other one for half as long.
Neither of the gunmen has been charged with any crime, fired, suspended, or even placed on administrative leave. Instead, they have been moved to desk jobs.
Now let us ask ourselves this: If any civilian had acted in the manner that these officers did, would they enjoy such leniency, or would they be at Riker’s Island awaiting trial?
Alas, the New York Police Department seems disturbingly comfortable with wounding innocent bystanders. The last incident in which civilians were injured by members of the department took place on August 24, 2012. During a shootout with a suspected murderer outside the Empire State Building, two officers wounded nine innocent bystanders.
We must reject the concept that police trying to shoot an unarmed man, and wounding two innocent bystanders when they miss is business as usual. Nobody is supposed to be above the law, and the standard to which police officers are held when it comes to the use of deadly force should be higher, not lower than that which applies to the rest of us.
By Milton Ruiz