Cult of Compliance – NYPD Shoot at Unarmed Man, then Charge him for their Shooting of Bystanders

Last September, as I wrote about here, a man with mental illness ran into traffic away from police.

Police said officers saw a man on foot weaving erratically through traffic and sometimes blocking vehicles. After approaching him, police said, the man reached into his pocket as if grabbing a weapon, and two officers fired a total of three shots. They missed him but struck a 54-year-old woman in the right knee and a grazed a 35-year-old woman in the buttocks, police said.

The man was taken into custody after a police sergeant subdued him with a Taser. No weapons were found on him.

So the man was obstructing traffic, didn’t obey verbal commands, and the NYPD opened fire. I cited this as an example of the cult of compliance.

The update on the story confirms my assessment. The police have charged him with their shooting of the two women.

An unarmed, emotionally disturbed man shot at by the police as he was lurching around traffic near Times Square in September has been charged with assault, on the theory that he was responsible for bullet wounds suffered by two bystanders, according to an indictment unsealed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Wednesday.

The piece continues (my emphasis)

Initially Mr. Broadnax was arrested on misdemeanor charges of menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest. But the Manhattan district attorney’s office persuaded a grand jury to charge Mr. Broadnax with assault, a felony carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years. Specifically, the nine-count indictment unsealed on Wednesday said Mr. Broadnax “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.”
“The defendant is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders,” said an assistant district attorney, Shannon Lucey.
The two police officers, who have not been identified, have been placed on administrative duty and their actions are still under investigation by the district attorney’s office, law enforcement officials said. They also face an internal Police Department inquiry.
Mr. Broadnax’s lawyer, Rigodis Appling, said Mr. Broadnax suffered from anxiety and depression and had been disoriented and scared when the police shot at him. He was reaching for his wallet, not a gun, she said. “Mr. Broadnax never imagined his behavior would ever cause the police to shoot at him,” she said.

So  here we have a situation in which the police decide to fire their weapons in a crowded area (with gawkers). They didn’t see a weapon. There was no weapon. The police shot bystanders. And then, on the theory that the man caused this by not complying, they charged him with wounding the people the officers shot.

It’s possible that this case will get thrown out. It’s likely that it’s a way of ratcheting up the possible charges in order to force a plea, a pretty standard tactic, or avoid a lawsuit. The underlying principle here is that non-compliance is illegal and any consequences from non-compliance, whether it’s damage done to you or to bystanders, is your fault, not the fault of those who shoot into a crowd of people.

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