The Friday night shooting of an unarmed driver in the Bronx has sparked more tension between the NYPD and community. The victim, Fermin Arzu, who was shot by an off-duty police officer in the Longwood section of the Bronx, was an immigrant from the Honduras, and the senior Honduran diplomat, Javier Hernandez, criticized the police in the NY Times: "The police cannot shoot crazily or indiscriminately. Before, there was courtesy, now there is intimidation, and I think it should be the other way around."
Arzu's niece made her family's concerns known, saying, "Just because they had a little power they decided to take someone's life." Arzu's faughter Katherine said, “I have no words. The cop shot my father and he needs to pay for all of this.” And Arzu's fiancee, Thomas Sabio, who hours before the shooting had been discharged from the hospital after a masectomy, said, "It's just like Sean Bell. The police kill people for no reason."
The NYPD has promised a full investigation, as the details of the shooting remain unclear and use of deadly force when a vehicle is once again debated. Here's how the AP describes the incident:
Police said it began when Arzu slammed into a parked car on a side street near the officer's home.
Witnesses told investigators the minivan backed up and drove about a block before Lora, who was on foot and out of uniform, caught up to the vehicle. He was standing at the driver's open door when the minivan lurched forward.
The officer discharged his 9mm pistol five times, hitting the driver once, police said.
A spokeswoman for the city medical examiner's office said the bullet entered the driver's back and pierced his heart, left lung and aorta, but he still managed to drive a block before his minivan struck another vehicle and caught fire. The car bumped onto a sidewalk and came to rest against the wall of a church.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The officer suffered a minor arm injury and was treated at a hospital and released.
Departmental guidelines say that police officers should not shoot "their firearms at or from a moving vehicle unless deadly physical force is being used against the police officer or another person present, by means other than a moving vehicle." It's unclear whether the officer, Raphael Lora, thought that Arzu was reaching for a gun, but no weapon was found.
Kirsten Foy, spokeswoman for the Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network, said, "If you just got into an accident, would it be unreasonable to say you were going to reach into the glove compartment for your registration or an insurance card? Is it reasonable for a police officer to assume you're reaching for a gun and not legitimate paperwork?" Sharpton, who said he had met with Arzu's family, said, "There seems to be, from what we heard so far, no logical reason for this man to be dead," and said the situation "smells."
Patrick Lynch of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association said, "Law enforcement has a legal obligation to conduct a full and thorough investigation of the facts before coming to any conclusion. Those who make snap judgments without all the facts do not serve the best interests of this city or those involved in the incident."