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2890: Legislators: mayor and police commissioner 'demonized' victim (fwd)
Legislators: mayor and police commissioner 'demonized' victim
By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- The mayor and police commissioner''demonized'' an
unarmed black man shot by a detective's gun when they revealed his
sealed juvenile record, a group of Democratic legislators charged
Saturday.''The buck stops with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police
Commissioner Howard Safir, for victimizing an individual who happens to
be black and unarmed,'' said Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-Queens, chairman of
the statewide Council of Black Elected Democrats.Two days after Patrick
Dorismond was shot during a scuffle with police on a Manhattan street,
Meeks was joined on the steps of City Hall by Reps. Jerrold Nadler
and Charles Rangel, Manhattan Borough President C.Virginia Fields, state
Sen. Larry Seabrook and other New York legislators.They called for a
probe by the federal Justice Department.Dorismond was killed shortly
after midnight Thursday during a struggle with undercover officers on
Eighth Avenue near West 37th Street. Police sources said Dorismond, 26,
an off-duty security guard, grew angry when one of the officers
approached and asked if he and another man knew where to buy marijuana
as part of a drug buy-and-bust operation. Officials said the two men
attacked the undercover officer, prompting Detective Anthony Vasquez and
another back-up officer to move in. During the ensuing scuffle, a
detective's pistol somehow went off, and a bullet hit Dorismond in the
Giuliani, in Syracuse for a St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday, was
asked about the charges that he and Safir had victimized Dorismond.
''The police can't get an even break here,'' the mayor said.
''People are more than willing to attack police officers ... but if the
report of the person involved in the incident is brought out then all of
a sudden that's unfair.'' He said the police officer's record is as
relevant as that of the person involved in the incident.
Earlier in the week, Safir said that Dorismond had been arrested as a
teen-ager for robbery and assault; in 1993 for attempted robbery and
assault; and in 1996 for criminal possession of a weapon.The 1993 and
1996 charges were all misdemeanors, according to court officials and
prosecutors. In both cases, Dorismond was allowed to plead guilty to
disorderly conduct and perform community service. The earlier
juvenile case was dropped.
Giuliani and Safir ''are demonizing and victimizing an innocent victim
via racial profiling,'' said Meeks. After Thursday's shooting, Vasquez
was stripped of his gun and badge amid a grand jury investigation. He
will remain on desk duty pending the outcome of the probe.That's not
enough, said several of the speakers Saturday.This was the third fatal
shooting by plainclothes officers in the city in the past 13 months,
noted Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. ''These cases
dramatically underscore the need to change the practices and tactics
that lead to tragedies like this.''
Dorismond leaves his Haitian-born mother and two daughters, ages 5 and
1. His death at the hands of police is part of a larger,disturbing
picture involving the city's police, said City Council member Annette
Robinson, another speaker at Saturday's gathering.She chairs the
council's Select Committee on Police Performance and Community
Relations, which was formed to develop a dialogue between communities
and police officers after the acquittal of the four officers who shot
Amadou Diallo. The latest shooting, said Robinson, ''confirms the harsh
realities of city life; if your skin is brown and if you speak
with an accent, you will be considered a criminal suspect.''
The dead man's family and the Rev. Al Sharpton also have called for a
federal probe of Dorismond's death, which follows last month's acquittal
and the fatal police shooting of another unarmed black man a week later.
Sharpton said he has asked Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to meet
with him on Monday; Lynch declined comment. A spokesman for U.S.
Attorney Mary Jo White said she would be monitoring the case.
The case has drawn the attention of the New York Civil
Liberties Union.'Racism is ingrained in the police culture,'' its
executive director, Norman Siegel, told the rally outside City Hall. He
urged New Yorkers to wear black ribbons on Monday as part of a movement
for what he called ''systemic change'' in police practices.