Unarmed Man Charged With Assault After NYPD Shoots Two Bystanders

For the crime of being difficult to shoot, a Manhattan grand jury has charged an unarmed, mentally unstable man with assault after police officers opened fire at him, missed, and wounded two bystanders as the man was blocking traffic last September in Times Square.

On September 14, Glenn Broadnax walked into the crowded streets of Times Square and jumped in front of several oncoming cars, apparently in an attempt to get run over. NYPD officers tried to take the 250-lb Broadnax into custody, but he resisted and, according to police, reached into his pocket. Two NYPD officers thought he might be reaching for a gun, and, in order to protect the thousands of innocent bystanders in Times Square, fired their service weapons at Broadnax. But the officers missed and wounded two innocent bystanders instead. Broadnax was eventually subdued with a Taser.

At first, police charged Broadnax with menacing, drug possession, and resisting arrest, but the Manhattan District Attorney pushed for assault charges because Broadnax "recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death."

"The defendant is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders," assistant district attorney, Shannon Lucey, told the New York Times.

That's one way to look at it. Here's another, from Mariann Wang, the lawyer representing one of the woman shot by the NYPD. "It's an incredibly unfortunate use of prosecutorial discretion to be prosecuting a man who didn't even injure my client," Wang said. "It's the police who injured my client."

Broadnax, who, at the time of the incident, believed he was talking to dead relatives, according to the statement he gave police, is being held on $100,000 bail and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years. "Mr. Broadnax never imagined his behavior would ever cause the police to shoot at him," Rigodis Appling, his attorney, said, adding that a disoriented Broadnax was reaching for his wallet, not a gun, when the officers opened fire.

"The only thing the individual had on his person was a wallet which was recovered from his right rear pocket," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters after the shooting.

The two officers have been placed on administrative leave pending separate investigations from the NYPD and the District Attorney.

[Image via AP]