Jury Reaches Verdict in Amadou Diallo Murder CaseAired February 25, 2000 - 4:30 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We're about to get the verdict in the Amadou Diallo murder case, the shooting of the West African immigrant by four New York City police officers.
And Maria Hinojosa, who's been closing following this story, joins us now live from Albany.
Give us an idea of what's at stake here, Maria.
MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Lou, right now that we do know there is a verdict. Just about five minutes ago, Mrs. Diallo was paged in the room where she was waiting. She was paged to tell -- and told to get to the courtroom immediately. She said, Oh, my God, and stood up and started moving into the courtroom.
What we do know now is that Officer Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Kenneth Boss and Edward McMellon who have been charged with second- degree murder in the shooting death of Amadou Diallo, who was an unarmed African immigrant, February 4, a year ago, February 4, they now will face the charges and hear what the jury has had to say.
They face second-degree murder. They also face first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment. This has been is two and a half days of deliberations after a three-week trial. There is a tremendous amount of tension and anxiety surrounding the courthouse here, and I can tell you that people across New York have been waiting to hear about this verdict.
For a little bit more about the case, the Amadou Diallo case, let's take a look at this story.
(voice-over): It was a cold night in the Bronx last February when the call came in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNETH BOSS, NYPD: ... I need a bus forthwith and a boss.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HINOJOSA: Send a bus, the police term for an ambulance and a boss. Four white police officers had shot an unarmed black man 19 times in a spray of 41 bullets.
PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace!
HINOJOSA: Coming on the heels of allegation police had sodomized another black man in a precinct bathroom, the shooting escalated anger that New York police had lost control. Over 1,000 New Yorkers would get arrested protesting the shootings, an extraordinary coalition of races and celebrities and politicians.
PROTESTERS: No justice, no police!
HINOJOSA: The officers claim they were only following police procedure, saying they stopped Amadou Diallo because he was acting suspiciously. It was a routine search by the New York Police Department's street crime unit, a team credited with lowering crime rates. Quickly, Diallo's death became highly politicized. Was it another example of the perils of racial profiling, or a regrettable risk of aggressive policing? New York's mayor, shunned at the victim's funeral, steadfastly defended the police. The case eventually made its way into national politics.
BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would issue an executive order that would eliminate racial profiling at the federal level.
VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first civil rights act of the 21st century will be a national law outlawing racial profiling.
HINOJOSA: The victim's mother, Kadiatou, struggled to understand how her college-bound son who worked as a street vendor could have been mistaken for a suspect.
KADIATOU DIALLO, MOTHER: I can't understand why somebody can be killed. I can't understand. It was nothing. No justification at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He definitely resembles the description of the rapist.
HINOJOSA: But at the trial, the police officers insisted they had not engaged in stereotyping. They said they had made an honest but tragic mistake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I rubbed his face, please don't die.
HINOJOSA: A mistake with implications for the entire justice system and police conduct in minority communities.
HINOJOSA: What we do know right now is that both families from the officers have been gathered in the courtroom, Mrs. Diallo and her family members on the other side of the courtroom, as it has been throughout this entire trial. Now, the penalties, the sentences that these officers face, the most serious for second-degree murder, the most serious and maximum penalty is 25 years to life. For the lesser charges of criminally negligent homicide, there would be only probation.
Again, there is a tremendous amount of anxiety. We do know that there is a verdict. We're waiting for the judge to come in and sit and call the jury in so we can hear this verdict -- Lou.
WATERS: Maria, we know this verdict comes on the third day of deliberations, and during these deliberations the jury asked for meetings with the judge on a number of occasions, one to ask him to reread them the law on the lesser murder counts; again, asking to hear the testimony of a doctor who testified about the escalating situations and behavior related to these kinds of stressful moments; and today requested to hear the overview of the elements of justification for each defendant. Can we read anything into these meetings between judge and jury?
HINOJOSA: I think at this point, Lou, the only thing that we can read into this is that this has been a very diligent process on the part of the jurors. When they first began deliberations, they asked for the reads of second-degree murder. Then the next thing they asked for is they asked for the testimony of the two officers who shot 16 rounds each. Then they asked to hear the read-back for the definition of first-degree manslaughter. They asked to hear the readings of the eyewitness of the event. They asked to hear the readings, then, of the officers who shot four and five times, and then going down for all of the specific charges, what were the readings.
Today, they did ask to have reread to them, what is the issue of justification under New York State law? The judge told them that if they found -- if these jurors believe that the officers were acting in self-defense, then they had to find that this action was justified.
The officers have said that they thought that Amadou Diallo had a gun in his hand. They said they were -- they felt that they were about to be shot at and that's why they responded with 41 bullets, hitting Amadou Diallo 19 times.
WATERS: All right, Maria Hinojosa in Albany, New York at her post as we await the verdict in the Amadou Diallo murder case. The judge has called all parties back into the courtroom. As soon as that verdict is read, we will, of course, join that process live.
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