Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters today that cops inadvertently wounded nine people yesterday after a disgruntled ex-employee killed his former boss near the Empire State Building. Kelly 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." Altogether, the two officers who confronted Jeffrey Johnson fired 16 rounds—one officer shot nine while another one shot seven.
Investigators believe at least 7 of those 16 rounds struck the gunman, according to NYPD Spokesman Paul Browne. Browne stressed that the officers were justified in using deadly force though: “They were approaching this man with a gun, and he turns on them, and he is eight feet away, pointing a gun right at them.” You can see surveillance video of the two officers confronting and shooting Johnson below.
Besides Johnson and victim Steve Ercolino, who were both killed, seven men and two women, including a Bronx mom and a North Carolina yoga instructor, were wounded on Friday—six of them were taken to Bellevue Hospital and three to New York Cornell Presbyterian with non-life threatening injuries.
Erica Solar, the 30-year-old Bronx mother of two, didn't realize she was shot until she felt a searing pain in her right leg: “She heard the shots,” her brother, Louis Lleras, told the News. “She didn’t know she was shot. It was crazy.” Media Rosario, from Queens, also didn't realize at first: “Everything happened so fast,” her sister-in-law, Auselis Rosario, told them. “The bullet went through her leg. She was crying to me.”
Robert Asika, 23, told the Times he was one of those people grazed by the bullets: “One of the cops shot me in my arm,” he said outside Bellevue Hospital Center, noting the gunman was moving toward him, and suggesting the officers “shot me probably trying to shoot him.” He said he wasn't mad at police: “I get they were doing their job, but they have to be a little more careful when they are aiming the gun at the suspect and not hit the innocent victims,” he said.
But Asika took on a harsher tone in an interview with the Guardian UK, accusing those cops of "shooting randomly", and hitting at least two other people: "If you're gonna aim try and aim perfectly. If you wanna aim at the target, you got to know what you're doing because it's the street," Asika said. "I could have been dead right now. I could have been dead."
Dr. David Klinger, a former Los Angeles police officer and current criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who has interviewed hundreds of police officers involved in shootings, told Buzzfeed that “no matter how realistic their training is, it can never prepare an officer for a shooting...There are professionals I work with who you would see that they're going to be able to stop a threat, will shoot the right number of bullets, and keep civilians as safe as possible,” says Klinger. “But unless this is something you train for on a daily or weekly basis, it's not something you can be truly prepared for.”
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