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U.S. Won't Prosecute Goetz on Civil Rights Charges in Shooting

February 26, 1985|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Bernhard H. Goetz will not be prosecuted for federal civil rights violations because he apparently did not act out of racial prejudice when he shot four teen-agers on a subway train, a prosecutor announced Monday.

Goetz, meanwhile, emerged from seclusion and said in newspaper interviews that he favors arming the public to fight crime, and that people should be taught "to get the gun out quickly."

Black leaders had asked U.S. Atty. Rudolph W. Giuliani to investigate the case after a state grand jury refused to indict Goetz, who is white, in the shootings of the four blacks, charging him instead with weapons possession.

But Giuliani said his staff "has determined that federal civil rights laws do not provide a basis" for a new investigation of the shootings.

'Acted Out of Fear'

He said Goetz's statements indicated "that racial animus was not involved in this incident." He said it appeared that "Goetz acted out of fear. . . . "

"Reasonable minds may differ as to whether his subjective belief that he would be harmed was . . . justified and as to whether his reaction was proportional to the harm he faced," he said. "But these are matters that must be decided under state law, not federal law."

However, Giuliani said he was setting up "a task force . . . to investigate complaints of racially motivated violence and to reach out into the affected communities to open up lines of communication. . . . "

Giuliani's announcement came as Goetz appeared in public for the first time in weeks. Over the weekend, he attended the arraignment of a man charged with stabbing an alleged thief at a subway newsstand, tried to attend the wake of a slain cabby--he was turned away because of the ruckus of accompanying press--and gave interviews.

'The City Is Sick'

"The city has a real problem. The city is sick from one end to another. There are a lot of real moral and social problems here," he told the Daily News.

He told the New York Post that he did not favor mass executions of criminals, but "if society wants to change, the change will be unpleasant and unpalatable."

He said he supports arming people to fight crime, providing that they are properly trained.

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