N E W Y O R K, April 27, 2001 -- The four police officers who killed a West African immigrant in a hail of 41 bullets will not receive departmentalpunishment for the shooting but will undergo retraining in tacticsand firearms use, New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said today.
However, the officers will not be allowed to carry their servicerevolvers, putting them on non-enforcement duty, Kerik said. Theywill serve without their weapons until Kerik determines they arefit for regular duty.
Kerik accepted the recommendations of two police investigativepanels, concluding that the officers acted within departmentalguidelines when they gunned down Amadou Diallo in February 1999. The panels said the officers believed their lives werein danger because they thought Diallo had a gun. The 22-year-oldhad been holding his wallet.
The four officers — Kenneth Boss, 29, Sean Carroll, 38, EdwardMcMellon, 29, and Richard Murphy, 28 — were acquitted of criminalcharges last year. Earlier this year, the Justice Departmentdeclined to pursue a civil rights case against them. The officersstill face an $81 million civil lawsuit filed by Diallo's family.
Free to Resume Careers
Kerik's decision means the officers are free to resume theirpolice careers. Since the Feb. 4, 1999, shooting, all four havebeen on desk duty with their guns and badges taken away. Boss andCarroll have said they wish to remain on the force, while McMellonand Murphy have applied to the Fire Department.
At the time of the shooting, the officers were part of theStreet Crime Unit, which focuses on high-crime areas. Now, McMellonand Murphy are with the Harbor Unit, Boss is assigned to theEmergency Service Unit, and Carroll is with the Aviation Unit.
McMellon was one of the top 200 finishers out of 6,000applicants on the most recent firefighter test. Fire officials hadput his application on hold pending the outcome of the NYPD review.
The shooting severely strained relations between the police andthe city's black community and sparked wild protests andallegations of endemic police brutality.
A Mother's Frustration, Officers' Relief
On Thursday, Kadiatou Diallo, Diallo's mother, said she was notsurprised the officers would not be disciplined.
"It's been over two years since I came to America. The onlything that I can claim still is justice," she said."Unfortunately, it is not happening, and I don't understand why."
Attorneys for the officers said their clients were relieved thisprocess was over.
"It's been a long road, and the officers are pleased that thedepartment has vindicated their actions," said Stephen Worth,McMellon's attorney.
His client is looking forward to joining the Fire Department,Worth added.
"He lives with this every day, but he still wants to be in abusiness where he's helping people," Worth said.
James Culleton, Murphy's attorney, said his client also wishesto be a fireman, like his father. Culleton added that the incidenthas been scrutinized thoroughly, and "in the end, there was nowrongdoing."
"There are people who are going to never change their opinion,that's human nature, but hopefully the majority of the people willsay it's time to move on," Culleton said.
Attorneys for Boss and Carroll did not immediately returntelephone calls for comment.