The NYPD is taking heat from the public after officers accidentally shot two bystanders while gunning for a Brooklyn man who allegedly mimed shooting at them near Port Authority on Saturday night.
35-year-old career criminal Glenn Broadnax, who has been arrested at least 23 times, told authorities Sunday that he was "on a mission to kill myself" when he lurched into traffic on 42nd Street near 8th Avenue around 9:35 p.m. When police attempted to detain him, he suddenly “reached into his pocket, took out his hand, and simulated as if he was shooting at them,” Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
The officers fired a total of three shots, but instead of hitting Broadnax, they hit two bystanders, one of whom was shot in the leg, the other grazed by a bullet in her buttocks. Now local residents want to know what police were thinking firing their weapons at an unarmed man in an area as packed as Midtown Manhattan.
“It was excessive force. I was shocked to hear the shots, and when I heard why, I was upset,’’ neighborhood resident Todd Noel told the Post. "Nobody’s life was in danger. It’s ridiculous for them to go for the deadly weapon. It’s especially dangerous in this type of area."
The officers have been assigned to desk duty during the investigation. According to department protocol, officers may fire their weapons only if they believe themselves or others are in imminent danger, but not if doing so will “unnecessarily endanger innocent persons.”
In 2010, the department added a clause about "professional judgment" following a Court of Appeals decision regarding a bystander shot by the police, noting that it does not "prohibit officers from discharging their weapons when innocent bystanders are present in every instance." The language is not meant to prohibit officers from firing when bystanders are present, but it does ask that they take care in exercising good judgment.
"Just because you’re in Times Square doesn’t mean you can’t use deadly physical force if you believe that it’s necessary,” John C. Cerar, a retired deputy inspector and former commander of the Police Department’s firearms training told the Times. “But you have to believe that it’s really necessary.”
Broadnax, who stands 6-foot-5, was eventually taken down by a Taser. He faces several charges, among them menacing, obstructing governmental administration, rioting, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and cocaine possession.
Though Saturday's melee was the first instance of bystanders being shot in 2013, many have called for the NYPD to change the way it trains its officers. Last year, nine bystanders were shot by officers outside the Empire State Building during a police shootout with an armed murder suspect.
“This is going to happen again and again until somebody takes a look at the training,” Michael Lamonsoff, a lawyer for six of the bystanders shot in last year's incident told the Daily News. “You can’t dismiss (bystanders being shot) as collateral damage and not look at the actual problem.”