[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#2882: Officer's Fatal Shot Was Fired by Accident, Lawyer Says (fwd)


March 18, 2000 _________ NY TIMES
Officer's Fatal Shot Was Fired by Accident, Lawyer Says               

An unarmed man slain by a backup undercover narcotics detective outside
a bar on Manhattan's West Side flew into a rage, punched an officer,
ignored shouts of "Police!" and was shot  when he grabbed the
detective's gun and it discharged once into his chest, a lawyer for the
officer said yesterday. The lawyer for Detective Anthony Vasquez said
that the victim, Patrick M. Dorismond, 26, a security guard for a
Midtown business  association, had grown belligerent after being asked
by another  undercover detective if he had any marijuana to sell, and
had suddenly escalated the quarrel into violence after all three
officers in the confrontation tried to back off. "The gun accidentally
discharged as a result of Mr. Dorismond lunging for the gun and grabbing
for the gun," the lawyer, Philip Karasyk, said in an interview. "If that
hadn't happened, the gun wouldn't have discharged. He made contact with
the gun. The guy is grabbing the gun and the gun goes off." The bullet,
recovered in an autopsy, entered Mr. Dorismond's chest just below the
left collarbone, slashed through the aorta, the heart's main artery, and
perforated the right lung. Mr. Dorismond fell on the sidewalk outside
the Wakamba Cocktail Lounge on Eighth Avenue near 37th Street shortly
after 12:30 a.m. Thursday, and was  pronounced dead at St. Clare's
 Mr. Karasyk's version of the shooting was contradicted in important   
respects by other witnesses, who said Mr. Dorismond did not know       
his accosters were officers and was not the aggressor. The lawyer's
account came as Mr. Dorismond's grieving Brooklyn family lashed out at
the police for what it called his needless death,  and accused the
authorities of demonizing the victim by exaggerating his minor criminal
record.  "Somebody killed my son!" Marie Dorismond, a Haitian immigrant,
wailed at a news conference outside her East Flatbush apartment
building. "My son is not a criminal. He has two children." And,       
referring to a criminal record cited by Police Commissioner Howard    
Safir and Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, she demanded, "What is this       
lie?"  At her side, the Rev. Al Sharpton called for a federal
investigation of Mr. Dorismond's killing, the third of an unarmed man by
plainclothes officers in New York in the last 13 months, and said he   
would meet on Monday with Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney
in Brooklyn, whose office has been investigating alleged patterns of
police brutality in the city for many months. "We want to bypass the
local prosecutor like we did in the Louima case," Mr. Sharpton said,
referring to Abner Louima, the Haitian immigrant tortured by officers
who were eventually convicted in federal court. "We can't trust the
local prosecutors," he added. "I can't see how an unarmed man rejecting
a drug deal ended up  dead." Mr. Sharpton, warning of anti police
demonstrations like those he helped organize in the killings of Amadou
Diallo last year and  Malcolm Ferguson, a drug suspect, two weeks ago in
the Bronx,said the Dorismond family would be represented by Johnnie    
Cochran.  While the case was roiled with anger over accusations by the  
victim's family that the killing was an overreaction by the police,   
there were no indications that race had played a role, as was alleged in
the death of Mr. Diallo, the black immigrant killed by four white
officers. Mr. Dorismond was black and the three officers involved in 
the confrontation with him are Hispanic.  As the city faced new
questions over a killing and what critics have called overly aggressive
police tactics, Mr. Giuliani, a staunch  defender of the police in case
after case, seemed exasperated before the St. Patrick's Day Parade
yesterday as reporters raised questions about Mr. Dorismond's death.  
"You really have to give the police a break, don't you?" he said.    
"These are the men and women that are out there protecting us." He      
noted that the case was under investigation, urged the public to  
withhold judgment until the facts were in and said, "Let's give them  
at least the benefit that most of you usually give common criminals."  
Mr. Giuliani, who defended Officer Vasquez as a "distinguished
undercover officer" who had "put his life on the line in the middle of
the night to protect the safety and security of this city," went on to
highlight Mr. Dorismond's criminal record. "He's been arrested for
robbery, attempted robbery and possession of a gun," the mayor said. 
A check by other public officials yesterday, however, suggested a
different picture, with convictions on relatively minor charges.