When news came last month that an officer of the 76th Precinct killed a man on the border of Carroll Gardens during a prostitution sting gone wrong, residents were resoundingly shocked. This can be attributed to many elements of the story, but the most obvious is that cops opening fire is such a seemingly rare occurrence in the area.
And that is the case throughout the city: New York City cops killed nine suspects by gunfire, and injured 19 more during 2011, the second-lowest number in recent history says a new NYPD report, according to the New York Times.
The 82-page report—known as the annual firearms discharge report—looks at the 62 officers who fired their weapons last year, and found that two-thirds of the officers fired five or fewer shots. More than a quarter online fired a single shot, and in none of the encounters did the officers reload.
According to the Times, of the nine suspects killed by police bullets, five were in possession of firearms, two had brandished knives, another had choked a detective and another was “using his vehicle as a weapon, injuring four civilians.”
During the 36 episodes in which police shot at suspects, five officers were injured by gunfire, with two of them injured by friendly fire.
The Times notes that the report does fail to tell the whole story when it comes to officers discharging their weapons. For instance, the report fails to solve the death of Denise Gay, 56, a retired home health aide who was killed by a stray bullet on the stoop of her Crown Heights home during a shootout on the day of the West Indian Parade. Cops shot at gunman Leroy Webster 73 times after he murdered another man, and when the dust settled, Gay was found dead.
The report, which does not mention Gay by name, says that in the situation “forensics were unable to determine definitively whose round caused her death.”
According to the paper, the report simply says that “sometime during the incident, a female bystander several doors down from the location of the shooting was struck and killed.”
The Times reached out to Gay’s brother, Leslie Gay Jr., who said that police were “not owning up to it at all.”
In the case of last month's shooting on the border of Carroll Gardens and Red Hook, a car containing four individuals stopped at the intersection of Huntington and Henry Streets to proposition an undercover female officer. When it became apparent that police were going to arrest them, one individual tried to flee. After struggling with two officers, the suspect allegedly withdrew a handgun and was shot by police on West 9th St. and Hamilton Avenue.
The incident is still under investigation, says the 76th Precinct, but the officer has since been removed to a desk job in the interim.
What do you think of police force in the neighborhood? What about in the rest of the city? Share your thoughts in the comments below.