One of the four cops who gunned down unarmed 22-year-old Amadou Diallo in 1999 is getting promoted to sergeant today. The Daily News reports that Kenneth Boss, who fired five of the 41 shots that took down the Guinean immigrant as he reached for his wallet in the vestibule of his apartment building, is clear of any disciplinary holds and is receiving the promotion after passing a civil service exam.
"You have so many police officers out there who deserve to be promoted, and this man is being promoted?" Diallo's mother Kadiatou told the News. "For doing what? Killing my son? I don’t have any hatred or revenge in my heart, but my life was changed forever that day. This is a stab in the heart."
Boss is the only one of Diallo's killers, all white, who remains on the force. All four, members of the notorious and now-disbanded Street Crimes Unit, were acquitted of charges related to the fatal shootings.
Boss served a tour in Iraq as a Marines reservist and refused to quit the NYPD amid his prosecution and widespread protests over the killing. Boss was pushed to desk duty and stripped of his gun until 2012, when he got it back along with the officers who fatally shot Sean Bell. The News reported that Boss's promotion was procedurally required and management had no say over it, but Diallo's mother said that someone should at least try to do something to stop it.
"Members of the NYPD should come out and say something against this," she said. "If they are brave enough, they will stand up for what’s right."
Boss's lawyer had no sympathy for critics of the trigger-happy cop.
"Anybody who elects to serve as a Marine combat infantryman in Iraq or in the most dangerous unit in the NYPD can talk," Edward Hayes told the tabloid. "Otherwise, people should shut up and sit down."
A Mayor's Office spokeswoman told Politico New York that Mayor de Blasio had no say over the promotion.
In July, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order appointing the state attorney general as special prosecutor in cases where officers kill unarmed people, and in cases where there is a question of whether the person was dangerous at the time of his or her death.
Reverend Al Sharpton, who called Boss's promotion "disgraceful," interviewed Cuomo and Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright on his radio show earlier this month. According to a transcript, Wright said that he hopes the executive order will help avoid repeats of the Diallo case, and those that have come since:
As you know, we in New York have been dealing with situations with police misconduct in terms of people of color primarily losing their lives at the hands of police in so many ways and I can tell you it was a bill that I introduced back in 2000, right after the death of Amadou Diallo calling for a Special Prosecutor and we have been passing this bill in the New York State Assembly, I wrote the bill, authored the bill, and we put it forward. We passed it in the New York State Assembly for 15 years and it never passed the State Senate.
So when the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, signed this Executive Order, I think it was about two or three months ago, I actually started crying because we could really see, it really meant something and the other municipalities, the other states in the nation, really need to take notice and use it as a model because it means a lot.