• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

All 9 Wounded at Empire State Building Shot By Police

New York’s police commissioner admits that his officers recklessly wounded 9 innocent bystanders at the Empire State Building yesterday.

CNN (“Police: All Empire State shooting victims were wounded by officers“):

All nine people injured in Friday’s shooting in front of the Empire State Building were wounded by police gunfire, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters Saturday.

The officers unloaded a total of 16 rounds at a disgruntled former apparel designer, killing him after he shot and killed a co-worker and engaged in a gunbattle with police, authorities have said.

Police said an investigation is under way after one officer shot nine rounds while another shot seven. Three victims suffered gunshot wounds, while the remaining six were hit by fragments.

[...]

“We have on tape the perpetrator pulled his gun out and tried to shoot at the cops,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday. “Whether he got off any bullets or not, to be determined.”

Kelly had 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 by Friday evening, while three others remained hospitalized, Kelly said.

NYT (“Decision by 2 Officers to Open Fire in Busy Midtown Leaves Bystanders Wounded“):

As the two officers confronted a gunman in front of the Empire State Building on a busy Friday morning, they had to make a snap decision: Do they open fire in the middle of Midtown?

From a distance of less than 10 feet, the officers, Craig Matthews and Robert Sinishtaj, answered in unison; one shot nine times and the other seven.

Investigators believe at least 7 of those 16 bullets struck the gunman, said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. But the officers also struck some, if not all, of the nine bystanders who were wounded.

This was the second time in two weeks that the police were involved in a fatal shooting in Midtown; on Aug. 11, two officers fired 12 shots at a knife-wielding man after he escaped arrest in Times Square.

The Patrol Guide prohibits officers from firing their weapons if, “in their professional judgment, doing so will unnecessarily endanger innocent persons.”

Mr. Browne said that in Friday’s shooting, the two officers had taken account of their surroundings before firing, as they are trained to do. Video surveillance footage, Mr. Browne said, shows that most of the wounded bystanders were closer to the Empire State Building, while the shooter was near the curb.

The NYPD is among the best trained general police departments in the world. They were also, of course, among the first responders whose heroic actions saved countless lives in the Twin Towers on 9/11. But firing off sixteen bullets in a crowded area smacks of panic and poor fire discipline. Whether the bystanders were hit by poorly aimed shoots or by shrapnel is almost immaterial; police have a duty to exercise extreme caution when civilians are in danger.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Adam says:

    The NYPD is among the best trained general police departments in the world.

    Why do you say that? Evidence?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  2. Maybe this whole philosophy of “spray a lot of 9mm” needs review. Give ‘em back 45 revolvers and encourage shot placement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  3. Speaking of “spray a lot of 9mm”

    Homeless Man Killed By Cops, shot 46 times

    (In that case they should have Tasered first, but baring that, 3 or 4 shots were probably enough.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. Alex Knapp says:

    Obviously, there would have been fewer injuries if everyone in the neighborhood were armed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  5. James Joyner says:

    @Adam: Most police forces, including in most of the United States, are incredibly poorly trained and receive very low pay; they’re able to recruit mostly bottom of the barrel types. That’s not true of the NYPD: they’re very well paid by police standards and can therefore be incredibly selective, accepting only those with either military experience or at least two years of college, and have a rather rigorous academy and in-service training requirements. It’s an incredibly professional force.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  6. @James Joyner:

    My understanding is that they are trained in rapid-fire shooting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Adam says:

    @James Joyner:
    Thanks for the reply. Will have to look into it more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. rudderpedals says:

    Schools need to start taking high schoolers out to firing ranges so kids can learn to recognize fire and respond appropriately. Standing there watching is probably not what you want to do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. meg says:

    The reason for the Second Amendment is to protect the people against the government. Here is a perfect example of why. If nearby citizens had been armed, as they should be, these cops would not be back out on the street continuing to endanger innocent people’s lives.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

  10. PJ says:

    @Alex Knapp:

    Obviously, there would have been fewer injuries if everyone in the neighborhood were armed.

    It’s obvious.
    Everyone should been armed except the police (and every other part of the government). :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. anjin-san says:

    Now if all the civilians had been armed, they could have returned fire at the cops who apparently were trying to kill them. Tea Party America will be a very cool place indeed…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  12. PJ says:

    @anjin-san:

    Now if all the civilians had been armed, they could have returned fire at the cops who apparently were trying to kill them. Tea Party America will be a very cool place indeed…

    Maybe the cops were terrorists dressed as cops.
    What kind of name is Sinishtaj? Sounds foreign. Has anyone asked for his birth certificate?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. sam says:

    @meg:

    The reason for the Second Amendment is to protect the people against the government. Here is a perfect example of why. If nearby citizens had been armed, as they should be, these cops would not be back out on the street continuing to endanger innocent people’s lives

    What the hell are you on about? Are you saying armed civilians would have/should have fired on the police officers? You are fvcking insane.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  14. sam says:

    And so are the two other crazies who approved your insanity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  15. sam says:

    And so are the other crazies who approved your post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  16. Franklin says:

    I assumed meg was being sarcastic.

    As for the incident, I guess one would have to review footage before making a final judgment. On the one hand, if somebody starts shooting me (whether I’m a cop or not), I’m pretty sure I don’t want to die and I would use a significant amount of force to prevent said death. But 9 is quite a few innocent bystanders.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  17. Franklin says:

    Having just reviewed the video quickly, you gotta think it’s the one cop next to the flower pot that hit most/all of the innocent civilians, since there are some in the same direction (but behind) the crazy guy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Gustopher says:

    At least they were shooting at someone who committed a crime. This is progress for the NYPD.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  19. matt says:

    @Gustopher: Sad but true

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. anjin-san says:

    @ Gustopher

    41 Shots :(

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I thought part of police training is supposed to look at the background of your shooting target, and NOT shoot if ti might endanger others.

    But since others brought it up, here are a few thoughts:

    1) This was almost a textbook example of how the left sees how crime should be handled — civilians should be unarmed and stay out of it, let the police take care of it. And all those wounded people who put all their faith in the authorities to protect them, instead of protecting themselves. Classic example of why some people refuse to entrust the police with all the responsibility for their safety.

    2) If this was an area where it was known that civilians often traveled armed, perhaps the gunman might have tried his attack elsewhere — or not at all. When was the last time there was a mass shooting at a gun show, shooting range, or anywhere else where people are reasonably expected to go about armed?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  22. Mike says:

    @James Joyner:

    The NYPD doesn’t do any sort of force on force training (simunitions or the like). Their firing quals only involve static firing on a range, and that type of training is woefully inadequate for law enforcement officers. On top of that their standards for qualification are insanely low. The engagement took place at FIVE FEET. If you can’t place all your shots center mass at a range of five feet you have no business being a cop, period.

    And it’s worth noting that one of the officers fired all of his rounds with only one hand on the gun…that is completely unacceptable. I understand that you may not have time in a field expedient circumstance to fire your first shot with a proper grip (although every effort should be made and this ignores the fact that the two cops blundered within 5 feet of someone who was known to be armed and dangerous without bothering to, y’know, actually draw their handguns) but you should get a proper grip as soon as possible. Magdumping with one hand on the gun is unsafe and irresponsible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Mike says:

    I should add that many other LE agencies don’t do force on force training, so it’s not like the NYPD is behind the Podunk, Midwest local PD in this aspect, but holding them up as “incredibly professional and well trained” isn’t entirely accurate since most of the other “top tier” agencies (most federal LE agencies, large city PDs, etc) DO conduct force on force training…yet the NYPD does not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    When was the last time there was a mass shooting at a gun show, shooting range, or anywhere else where people are reasonably expected to go about armed?

    Like Iraq or Afghanistan?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  25. Rob in CT says:

    Bang up job, NYPD. Bang up job. Nine-for-Nine.

    The idea is that professionals are supposed to be, you know, professional.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Rob in CT says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Upon further review, I’m going to retract this. Serves me right for skimming the article.

    Here’s the most recent info I found:

    According to the info I’ve seen, the policy fired 14-16 times (the article James is using says 16, whereas another article I just found says 14). The murderer was hit 10 times. Three bystanders were hit by whole bullets (I assume those are the three that needed surgery). The remaining six were grazed by fragments (either of bullets or bits of building or sidewalk, I guess).

    I’m willing to cut the cops some slack here, while also agreeing that 16 shots may have been excessive. It’s seems possible, btw, that the early shots were misses and that’s why they kept firing. It’s worth reviewing in detail, but this is a far cry from pumping ~50 rounds into an unarmed homeless man or somesuch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0