Click HERE to watch today’s CrimeLine on Spreecast, where I discuss the shooting outside the Empire State Building Friday. Jeffrey Johnson shot and killed his former co-worker, Steven Ercolino, on the street and police shot & killed Johnson. Yet, in the process of trying to shoot Johnson, they also shot NINE innocent bystanders, six directly, and three wounded by bullet fragments.
This begs the question, do the NYPD need more training? I say, overwhelmingly, YES. According to a study based on New York’s annual firearms discharge reports, officers hit their targets just 34 percent of the time. In 2010, police hit three innocent bystanders in a shoot-out, and they hit one the year before.
This case is similar to an incident in Harlem in 2005 where a suspect opened fire on officers, and five of them fired back 25 times, killing him, but also wounding a young mother and an elderly man. The man settled for $250,000. Yet, the woman, Tammy Johnson, took her lawsuit all the way to the Court of Appeals, and lost. In their 4-3 majority decision the court threw out her case, stating the officers “clearly had probable cause to fire their weapons at the suspect: they were in pursuit of an armed individual who opened fire on them on a public street, endangering the lives of the officers and the public.” It is because of this decision, any of these 9 bystanders wouldn’t stand a chance at trial and their best bet is to settle if they can.