Saturday, January 26, 2008

Police Shooting of Black Off-Duty Police Officer in White Plains Raises Spector of Giuliani-Safir Regime

It's been seven years since an undercover NYPD officer shot and killed Haitian-American security guard Patrick Dorismond (pictured left) inside a Manhattan bar but his death still looms over the culturegeist and a city and region wracked by a slew of police shootings of innocent victims of color.

Yes, it's not even February and it's already happened to another innocent man of color, this time to an off-duty police officer trying to help out a stranger he didn't even know.

On Friday afternoon 23 year-old off-duty Mount Vernon, New York police officer Christopher Ridley was driving in downtown White Plains when he stopped to break up an altercation between two homeless men.

According to witnesses, Ridley exited his vehicle and chased one of the men involved with the fight, a homeless man known locally as "Twin" before getting into a physical confrontation.

At some point his gun fell to the ground and went off, hitting concrete; details are still not fully clear but two White Plains officers, responding to the shot and the scene, shot and killed Ridley after he was asked to the drop the gun. Two witnesses to the fight and the shooting told reporters Ridley might have been dazed from the chase and fight and didn't hear the police commands.

As a male African-American and a resident of New York City it's hard to process the outrage you feel inside when members of the police department routinely make the fatal decision to use excessive force in cases and incidents where men with dark skin are involved.

Whether it's Westchester, Long Island, White Plains or any of the five boroughs of New York City, police officers in the New York region seem far more pre-disposed to the use of deadly force against black and Latino suspects.

The color of a man (or boy's) skin seems to be far more important than innocence or guilt; to say nothing of his being an active member of law enforcement.

It wasn't that long ago that the city reeled under the senseless shooting of security guard Patrick Dorismond (pictured above). It was 2000 and the NYPD under Rudy Giuliani's regime seemed at times to have free reign to treat minorities like targets on a range.

Dorismond became the fourth unarmed black suspect to be shot and killed by NYPD officers
in the opening months of 2000.

The facts of the case enraged New Yorkers of all races and religions. Undercover members of the NYPD, finishing up a night of marijuana arrests approached Dorismond, a innocent Haitian - American working as a security guard, and asked him if he had any pot.

Dorismond became angry at the question, a scuffle started and seconds later he was shot and killed by the undercover officers.

The incident came on the heels of the acquittal of the officers charged in the brutal killing of Amadou Diallou and Giuliani, already under fire along with police commissioner Howard Safir for their handling of some of the most high- profile and controversial killings by NYPD officers in the city's history, almost tripped over himself trying to side with the PBA and the accused officers.

Without having the complete facts of the case Giuliani leapt to the defense of the officers and shocked people by ordering the NYPD to release details from Dorismond's arrest to the press; including a 13 year-old juvenile arrest that had been sealed by the court.

Giuliani did his best to trash Dorismond's name and slander his character in a desperate attempt to justify his killing at the hands of over-zealous, stressed-out NYPD officers; even insisting to reporters that the innocent victim was "no alter boy". It was later revealed that not only had Dorismond in fact BEEN a Catholic alter boy (Hello? Haitian-American??) he'd served in the same Catholic church Giuliani attended as a child.

Among the former-Mayor's more absurd responses in defense of his actions?

"(Y)ou cannot libel a dead a dead person." And my personal favorite, "(..the assertion that) Mr. Dorismond has spent a good deal of his life punching people is a fact."

The 81 year-old Mahattan DA Robert Morgenthau, ever the loyalist, demonstrated just how completely out of step he really is with the scope and repercussions of police violence against minorities and public opinion on the matter by announcing that no charges would be brought against any of the officers involved with Dorsmond's shooting.

Just another in a slew of cases where an innocent minority was shot and killed by police - and no charges were brought against ANYONE.

As the city waits for the facts in the Ridley case to emerge, the only sense of reassurance is that Giuliani's weak performance in the Republican primary/caucus has him on the verge of being eliminated from the GOP presidential race - so t least we don't have to worry about this divisive, racist, pontificating hypocrite getting too close to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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