Back to previous post: Open thread 191

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: The Sugar Problem

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

December 4, 2013

Posted by Patrick at 10:51 PM * 41 comments

Sometimes the news is so insane, you can’t not blog it.

An unarmed, emotionally disturbed man shot by the police as he was lurching around traffic near Times Square in September has been charged with assault, on the theory that he was responsible for bullet wounds suffered by two bystanders, according to an indictment unsealed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wednesday.
No, really:
Initially Mr. Broadnax was arrested on misdemeanor charges of menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest. But the Manhattan district attorney’s office persuaded a grand jury to charge Mr. Broadnax with assault, a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years. Specifically, the nine-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday said Mr. Broadnax “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.”

“The defendant is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders,” said an assistant district attorney, Shannon Lucey.

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, law enforcement officials said. They also face an internal Police Department inquiry.

Administrative duty! An internal Police Department inquiry! Well, that’s all right, then.

I mean, all the cops did was shoot someone. It’s not like they “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.” Definitely, who you want to prosecute is the mentally ill guy who wandered out into traffic. Perish forbid you should prosecute any police.

Really! Hooray for brave prosecutors like ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY SHANNON LUCEY who identify and target the real threat: pathetic losers who make otherwise fine and upstanding police officers lose their shit. Look what you made me do. Excellent moral discernment, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY SHANNON LUCEY.


Our descendants will marvel at what we put up with.

Comments on Travesty:
#1 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 11:16 PM:

I hope our descendants will marvel at what we put up with. I fear that they will marvel that we spoke so bravely -- aloud and in public -- against Government Officials.

#3 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2013, 11:37 PM:

Son Of A Bitch.

We already know the NYPD has shit for training/fire discipline.

This is unconscionable.

#4 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:30 AM:

Sounds like there's a good case against the prosecutor for obstructing justice, not that that'll ever get charged in court.

#5 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:34 AM:

Terry @ 3

Yup, but at least, this time, one of the bullets hit the target. For the NYPD, that seems to be a Major Achievement. *sigh*

I'm considering the New York City, like New Mexico and Arizona, is not a place I'd want to visit if it were avoidable.

#6 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:42 AM:

Don Fitch @ 5... What's that about New Mexico?

#7 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:44 AM:

I think it's an outgrowth of the legal theory that all the results of a criminal action are the fault of the accused, no matter who actually did them. Which means that the police are not held responsible nearly as often as they should be.

(Also: elected DAs tend to overcharge and retry people, because that proves they're not soft on crime. Even when they have no case, they'll do that.)

#8 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 01:08 AM:

Wow, now you can shoot someone in NYC without ever touching a gun. It sounds like a circus act, but it's actually the mindboggling fascist idiocy of the coprocephalic ADA Shannon Lucey.

Even Stalin simulated logic better than this.

#9 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 01:19 AM:

Next up: Shannon Lucey indicts a ham sandwich for animal cruelty and violation of kasherut laws.

#10 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 01:29 AM:

So yeah, avoid police in NYC whenever possible. They're not your friends, and they're not there to help you. In fact, if there's a nearby mentally ill person committing a misdemeanor, they can shoot you if they feel like it, because after all it's the fault of the criminal. And assholes like Shannon Lucey will make sure they get away with it.

To state the obvious, this is designed to undermine the lawsuit filed by the shooting victims. If legally the shooting is the fault of the mentally-ill guy, it's not the fault of the police, and they can't be sued for it. A transparent misuse of ADA Lucey's powers.

I'm astonished Lucey didn't indict the two victims for interfering with the police. After all, they got in the way when the cops were trying to shoot someone.

#11 ::: Fred ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 01:32 AM:

-Our descendants will marvel at what we put up with.

And so, the Bush administration.

#12 ::: Inquisitive Raven ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 03:33 AM:

That sounds remarkably like the case of a woman charged with vehicular homicide for crossing a street with her kid a few years back.

#13 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 05:45 AM:

Don, New York City is great. We just have a problem with our occupying army.

Our mayor-elect isn't perfect, but it's worth noting that the single issue that most contributed to his 73% - 24% electoral victory was his consistent advocacy of putting some restraints on what that occupying army is allowed to do. The fact that his wife and kids look like this gave a lot of people reason to believe he might actually know what it's like to be a parent worried that your perfectly decent teenager is going to get injured or even killed in a confrontation with some anxious, hopped-up, heavily-armed white guy with a police badge.

#14 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 09:41 AM:

This should be a science-fiction story you guys are editing, not a news story you're reporting!

This piss-poor, morally deficient, scum-breathing... insect of a District Attorney must be some kind of inhuman, alien creature. She's surely not human!

#15 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 10:41 AM:

So they've progressed from "You made us shoot you" to "You made us shoot several other people."

Just another day in Fun City. How soon until we see


(They've used this rationale to, um, prove how violent drugs make the users — because policemen shoot them, you see.)

#16 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 11:07 AM:

Really fun case to defend, though maybe not to get paid on.

#17 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:14 PM:

Alex 14: Alas, Alex, that kind of monstrousness is all too human. Other species laugh at us.

Anderson 16: I'm assuming the defense attorney will go for the "are you fucking kidding me" defense...unless a burned-out public defender decides to just plead it out to save time and effort.

#18 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 12:40 PM:

...that kind of monstrousness is all too human. Other species laugh at us

I'm fully aware of that, and have been for some time, but this kind of behavior does need to be mocked and attacked and called out. IMHO the DA is a disgusting, venomous toad of the sort who would be denied a dog-walking license by anything which resembles a real civilization.

I wish I was an NY defense attorney, so I could take the case for free and destroy this goon in court. Unfortunately, I'm here in Lost Angeles doing my thing. Oh well, at least I can boo her from the sidelines!

#19 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 01:10 PM:

Xopher beat me to the ham-sandwich line (and nicely elaborated it, too), so all I have to add is that this comes across as a demonic parody of the kind of maneuver that Law & Order used to employ to complicate the plot, usually after the mid-show commercial break.

#20 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 01:46 PM:

Russel Letson @ 19... dum-dum

#21 ::: charming quark ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 01:51 PM:

And Russell, you beat me to the Law and Order reference. My thought was that the NYC DA's office must be struggling to keep up with its contract to provide Law and Order with new story lines.

#22 ::: Zeppelin ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 02:37 PM:

There is a charming tradition here in Germany of never giving a police officer a sentence of any kind exceeding 11 months, no matter what they do, because any longer than that would lose them their civil servant status.

"No matter what they do" has in the past included drug trafficking, extortion, assaulting/murdering various kinds of minority in the line of duty, as well as in one case killing, dismembering and partially eating a man.

#23 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 02:52 PM:

Patrick, #13: For your amusement.
"The most dangerous neighborhood in NYC."

#24 ::: David ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 03:33 PM:

FWIW, I just blogged about this -

I've been trying to frame the meta issue (I come to it from disability advocacy) and intend to write some long-form pieces on it once I finish my current book (2 months!)

#25 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 04:27 PM:

Lee @ 23: So yes.

#26 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 04:34 PM:

Police have already done the "firebomb an entire block" trick; it was the MOVE cult headquarters in Philadelphia back in 1985. And of course they blamed the cult for the damage, while saying they hadn't known their bomb would catch the whole place on fire.

#27 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2013, 09:57 PM:

I too immediately thought of MOVE when I read "police destroy entire block".

#28 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 12:37 PM:

Regrettably, this is not particularly new; it's a variant of the long-standing use of "constructive murder" charges to prosecute people who were doing illegal actions and who get shot at. This particular case is more extreme than the normal run, in that the person charged was not committing an indictable offence/felony at the time, which is the usual context for this sort of charge.

The charge, though, should not (in law) reduce the liability of the officers involved.

#29 ::: Robert West ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 01:27 PM:

This ridiculous prosecution is the result of a misapplication of a well-established principle of American law, and it could happen *anywhere* in the country, not just here.

The premise is that, if you choose to engage in an illegal activity, you are legally responsible for any *forseeable* outcome which is caused by the criminal activity. The standard example of this in criminal law classes is: two guys go to rob a convenience store; the owner of the store defends his store by shooting one of them, who dies; the other guy is guilty of murder. It was easily forseeable that the shopkeeper would defend his shop this way; his doing so was triggered by the criminal act; the criminals are responsible for the outcome.

The logical parallel in this case is, I think, clear: the emotionally disturbed man "lurching around traffic" had chosen to commit a crime (misdemeanor jaywalking, a crime which *everyone in New York City* commits every day). The prosecutor is saying that it was forseeable that police might respond by trying to shoot him, and that therefore he's responsible for innocent bystanders hit in the conflict.

The absurd thing, though, is that it's not really forseeable that police would react that way ... and, *if it is forseeable*, then something is wrong, and we need to eject the NYPD posthaste.

#30 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 01:40 PM:

To outline the absurdity of this still further: here in the UK, malefactors don't normally have guns (and, as I've previously mentioned, those who do are quite likely to abandon them if chased by police, because they don't want a gun charge as well as whatever else they're wanted for). Therefore, the police also don't normally have guns.

So if this man had done what he did in London, nobody would have got hurt, because he wouldn't have been shot, because the police dealing with the incident wouldn't have been armed. I expect he'd still have been arrested, but there's no possible way he could have been charged with murder.

Conclusion: he's guilty of being American. This is not a comfortable conclusion.

#31 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 02:29 PM:

Well, he hasn't been charged with murder, because the victims of the police shooting didn't die. I wonder if, had someone pulled the plug on one of them in the hospital, this asshole ADA would have charged Broadnax with murder?

#32 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 04:30 PM:

I have not handled a firearm in more years than many here have been alive, but some gun safety rules are so basic that even I know them.

"And what was it about the defendant's behaviour that required these officers to neglect to check where their shots would go should they miss their intended target?"

J Homes.

#33 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 07:45 PM:

In the part of London I work in the last few days have had a series of student protests specifically against police. "Cops off Campus". The police have been reacting or overreacting against it and there has been a small amount of violence. The night before last I saw some police wrestle someone to the ground, then they were forced to regroup a few yards away, they got into vans, retreated about two hundred metres to Tottenham Court Road through a small crowd making a half-hearted attempt to block their route (standing in the street in front of the vehicles but not lying down), and then re-emerge and charge the protestors, running right past me.

There were many other bystanders as well as me, some watwatching what was going on, some taking photos, some apparently ignoring it all.

No-one was at all worried about getting shot. No-one seemed to feel in any danger that they might be picked on for "non compliance". I suspect that that might have been differenr in New York.

For what its worth British police do have guns and quite often use them. But they don't routinely carry them in normal front-line policing. And that seems a better way.

#34 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 09:54 PM:

@ 26/27: some news organizations recently observed a major anniversary of the MOVE bombing; I was reminded of a fellow SCAdian's observation at the time that if the police could get a helicopter over the "pillbox" the shots were coming from, why didn't they just drop something heavy and pointed? (Elevator counterweights? Wrecking balls?) The "pillbox" was not reinforced, so this would have been effective; maybe it wasn't macho enough for the Philadelphia police?

#35 ::: CHip was half-gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2013, 09:58 PM:

First attempt to preview (not post, preview) the above got an error msg including a reported 404. 2nd attempt (immediately following) worked. Posted because the msg asked for a report, saying that a log could be consulted if the time/date of the error were known. Haff fun in der voodwork....

#36 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 07:11 AM:

Ken @33, unfortunately the student/police violence was much worse than the most of the newspapers and TV news are reporting -- I've seen accounts of police brutality (cops punching and kicking students without warnings or attempts at peaceful dispersal). More here.

#37 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 01:33 PM:

Charlie @36 - yes, it was worse. And I saw one bit of police violence myself. I suppose the point I was trying to make was that the uninvolved bystanders (commuters going home, drinkers in the bars) didn't feel scared in the way they might have in some other circumstances.

But there has been a history of police and court overreaction to these protests. They even did someone for criminal damage for writing slogans on the pavement in chalk.

#38 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2013, 07:38 PM:

I'm imagining the cops doing a lot of slo-mo jumps sideways while emptying clips from two guns at the same time. Also, these cops probably wear trench-coats and cool glasses.

#39 ::: Nangleator ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 02:48 AM:

Well, since the responsibility for police action is now wholly with suspects and the rest of us (suspected suspects,) we should also receive all police pay from this point forward. Only U.S. citizens, with no police officers receiving any pay, of course.

Police pay and all police authority. And, given that we citizens have determined that the police are not capable of behaving in a safe way, we should probably restrict them to the insides of jail cells from now on.

#40 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2013, 07:34 AM:

Nangleator: personally, since the discovery that incoherent ranting can force police to open fire on bystanders, I'm working on a way to use Tolkien quotes to get them to hand over their pension funds.

#41 ::: Spherical Time ::: (view all by) ::: December 18, 2013, 02:14 PM:

Don't forget, he was armed . . . with the pavement that he was walking on, according to Mark O'Mara.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.