Women In Mourning and Outrage
© Paul Fusco – Women In Mourning and Outrage (1999 – 2000)
In 1999, four white policemen fired 41 bullets at a young Muslim Guinean immigrant in the Bronx. 19 hit their mark. The killing prompted outrage both within and outside New York when information emerged indicating that the murdered Amadou Diallo was unarmed at the time and did not threaten the officers. The killing was viewed by many as police brutality stemming from a culture of racial profiling.
Prosecutors brought six alternative charges against each of the cops; none of them stuck – not the counts of murder, the two of manslaughter, not homicide nor reckless endangerment. All officers were acquitted after the trial was moved to an Albany, New York court, as a result of a City appellate’s court ruling that pre-trial publicity had made a fair trial in New York City impossible.
Diallo’s death, the change of venue, and the verdict each sparked massive demonstrations against police brutality and racial profiling, resulting in more than 1,700 arrests. Charges against the protestors were later dropped.
No New York City police officer has ever been convicted of murder for actions in the line of duty. A grand jury charged a New York officer with murder only once before, in 1992, but the charges were reduced and the officer was acquitted.