Empire State Shooting – 9 bystanders wounded by police in shootout with gunman
August 25, 2012
Like many I have been following news of the shooting incident at the Empire State Building in Manhattan this week during which two people including a gunman were killed and nine bystanders were wounded.
When news of this incident first broke, my initial thoughts were that another horrific mass murder had occurred. However as the facts have unfolded over the last two days it seems that the truth is remarkably different, and today it has been confirmed that rather than being victims of the gunman concerned, all nine bystanders were in fact wounded by bullets and shrapnel from bullets fired by the two police officers involved.
The perpetrator apparently only killed one individual with whom he had an ongoing employment dispute.
In the last day, CCTV footage has been released to news networks and online outlets of the confrontation. This film shows the perpetrator after having killed his only victim attempting to flee the scene. Two police officers then approach him from behind, the gunman turns, waves his weapon, and the police open fire killing him.
The problem was however that the confrontation occurred in what appears from the CCTV film to be a particularly crowded street. Many bystanders, including children, are seen mere feet from the gunfight. Many are shown within the direction of the officers fire when the shooting begins, some sitting on a bench immediately behind the gunman. There are also the drivers in exposed vehicles alongside.
As the shooting begins, bystanders are seen desperately fleeing for cover. Although the perpetrator waves his gun, it is unclear from the video whether he fired or not. Reports are however that the two officers between them fired 16 shots, following which the perpetrator collapses apparently dead.
Now there are suggestions that the officers in this case had little choice in defending themselves, and that may well be true. However I can’t help but think that they appear to have used poor judgement in their method of attempting to apprehend an armed gunman on such a crowded street, particularly given the significant possibility that the gunman might open fire on them or others. The fact is that given the events as portrayed, it is not surprising that 9 innocents were wounded.
I am now beginning to wonder if New York Police are sometimes a little slow to think and quick to act. Perhaps they are too heavy handed?
It does seem from the video that the gunman was fleeing the scene of his initial shooting, not looking for further victims. Is there any possibility that he could have been apprehended in a less busy area? Could the officers involved have called for more backup? Reports suggest they may have been inexperienced in the use of firearms, did this contribute to the incident?
It does however seems that every time NYPD are in the news in recent months, including for example the unnecessary macing incidents at Occupy Wall Street last year, they are seen to be acting in a way that worsens a situation and exposes innocent people to injury. The police are there primarily to protect the public. In this case they seem to have failed in that duty and arguably precipitated an infinitely more dangerous situation than they may have had, particularly where all injuries on the scene were caused by their gunfire.
As with all such police shooting incidents, whether in New York, the UK or elsewhere, there are many questions to be answered. Hopefully there will be a full and transparent investigation into this incident, and hopefully those injured by these officers will not only recover fully, but will also be properly compensated, not that monetary compensation can ever undo the injuries suffered.
The ITN video of the CCTV footage is linked to below, I have not embedded it as it is quite graphic.