NYPD shoot bystanders; unarmed target gets charged with assault

In September cops shot at emotionally disturbed man in Times Sq. They hit bystanders, the man got assault charges

Published December 5, 2013 8:56PM (EST)

                                (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-69661p1.html'>Trinacria Photo</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(Trinacria Photo via Shutterstock)

File under trigger-happy cop impunity: In September, NYPD officers shot at an unarmed, emotionally disturbed man in Times Square after he was "lurching around near traffic," as the New York Times put it.

The Brooklyn man, Glenn Broadnax, 35,reached in to his pocket, prompting the (obviously reasonable) police response of opening fire in one of the most densely populated intersections on the planet. The cops missed Broadnax, striking instead two female bystanders. (Reminiscent of the police shooting last year in which NYPD bullets struck nine bystanders outside the Empire State Building.)

Not only did the police needlessly open fire on an unarmed individual in the Times Square incident, but now Broadnax faces assault charges for, according to the Manhattan D.A.'s office, “recklessly engag[ing] in conduct which created a grave risk of death.” The suggestion, then, is that because of Broadnax -- who, I repeat, was unarmed -- was dangerously disrupting traffic, it was thus his fault that the police opened fire and shot bystanders.

The two police officers, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative duty and their actions are still under investigation by the district attorney’s office. They police department are also carrying out an inquiry.

As reported here, an investigation last year by the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram found that over half of people shot by police in the U.S. suffer from mental illness. The Times Square incident is no exception. As the Times reported, "after his arrest, Mr. Broadnax was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center, where he told a detective that 'he was talking to dead relatives in his head and that he tried throwing himself in front of cars to kill himself.'" Luckily, then, New York's finest were there to open fire.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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Assault Mental Illness Nypd Police Police Shooting Shooting Times Square Unarmed