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New York Officers Indicted in Immigrant's Shooting

Court: Four men face second-degree murder charges. Slaying has increased racial tensions, sparked protests.

March 26, 1999|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — Four police officers who killed an unarmed African immigrant in a barrage of bullets were indicted Thursday on charges of second-degree murder, a source close to the case said.

The indictments come after days of protests outside police headquarters that brought hundreds of disorderly conduct arrests.

The source, who has knowledge of the still-sealed indictment, spoke on condition he not be identified.

The four white officers, Edward McMellon, Sean Carroll, Kenneth Boss and Richard Murphy, fired 41 bullets at street peddler Amadou Diallo, a black immigrant from Guinea, as he stood in the vestibule of his Bronx apartment building Feb. 4. Nineteen of the bullets hit him.

The Bronx district attorney's office could not immediately be reached for comment. Marvyn Kornberg, an attorney for Carroll, said he had not been notified of any indictment.

The shooting inflamed racial tensions in the city and sparked daily protests outside police headquarters.

Details of the reported indictment were expected to be made public Monday at the earliest. A conviction on second-degree murder carries a possible prison sentence of 25 years to life.

The officers who shot Diallo declined to be questioned by the grand jury. They have not spoken publicly about the shooting.

The incident has triggered a number of investigations into the practices of New York police, particularly the elite street crimes unit to which the four officers belonged.

Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani also has come under heavy criticism for his response to the shooting.

On Thursday, 219 protesters were put in plastic handcuffs and booked, the largest number arrested since the daily civil disobedience acts began two weeks ago.

Among those arrested were actress Susan Sarandon and former Democratic U.S. Rep. Floyd H. Flake, considered one of the Republican mayor's few black allies.

New York officers, meanwhile, demanded an end to "cop bashing" in their own demonstration Thursday.

About 100 men and women from the union that represents the police, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Assn., carried signs saying "Stop the Cop Bashing" and "Police Officers R People 2" outside police headquarters. They stood silently for an hour, ignoring jeers and boos from protesters.

"I have been a New York City police officer for 30 years and I'm standing up for the New York City police officers. That's my responsibility, that's what I'm here for," said protest organizer Jim Higgins.

Giuliani, who has been criticized for refusing to sit down with elected black officials and community leaders, met with Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields for the first time Wednesday and planned to meet with state Comptroller H. Carl McCall.

"I think what I did is to try to explain why I have, as best as I can, tried to express my sensitivity, my concern, my regret over this situation--and at the same time not allow a police department to be defamed in the way in which it was being defamed," the mayor said after the session.

Police Commissioner Howard Safir has also begun meeting with black leaders, including the Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, who once called the mayor a racist.

After the hourlong meeting with Giuliani, Fields said she pointed out "ways in which I felt that he has not shown the level of sensitivity and understanding and it has not served to heal."

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