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CNN Newsstand

Jury Finds Police Officers Not Guilty in Diallo Shooting

Aired February 25, 2000 - 10:00 p.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, on CNN NEWSSTAND: Four police officers accused of murder learn their fate from the jury...


JUSTICE JOSEPH TERESI, SUPREME COURT, NEW YORK: Not guilty of the charge of reckless endangerment...


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, the case that's torn away at racial fault lines.


KADIATOU DIALLO, MOTHER: But justice mean for all the people. The killing of Amadou was wrong.



MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK: It was an eminently fair trial under very, very difficult circumstances.


ANNOUNCER: We'll take you back to the very day when a hail of gunfire killed an unarmed man.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was going in his -- the place where he lived.


ANNOUNCER: To the shock and outrage that follow.


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: This is outright slaughter. If he was facing a firing squad, he would not have been shot at 41 times. (END VIDEO CLIP)


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: If you refuse to leave, you'll be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.



UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: When that man turned around, that was it.


ANNOUNCER: The dramatic trial of four policemen who ultimately took the stand in their own defense.


SEAN CARROLL, DEFENDANT: I rubbed his face. Please don't die.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, reaction from the victims mother...


DIALLO: This horrible atrocity should not happen to somebody else.


ANNOUNCER: ... to legal analysis.


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN ANCHOR: The jury's made up of seven white men, one white woman and four black women.


ANNOUNCER: The story of Amadou Diallo.

CNN NEWSSTAND, with anchors Stephen Frazier and Carol Lin in Atlanta.

STEPHEN FRAZIER: Good evening, welcome to NEWSSTAND.

Carol Lin is off tonight, and we are devoting all our time to a single subject: the verdicts in the Amadou Diallo case. Four, white police officers cleared of all charges in connection with their shooting of an unarmed African immigrant.

It is a case that has polarized New York City and has ignited debate across the nation because it touches so many of society's raw nerves: fear of violence, suspicions of police brutality, allegations of racial profiling when police suspect any African-American they see.

The four policemen, Kenneth Boss, Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon, and Richard Murphy, are plain-clothes officers, they do not wear uniforms. February 4 of last year, they were looking for a serial rapist. And when they saw Amadou Diallo, they said they thought he fit the description of the suspect. Fearing he was pulling a gun on them, they said they opened fire, shooting 41 bullets, hitting Diallo 19 times. Actually though, Diallo was unarmed. He was reaching for his wallet.

Today, flanked by attorneys, the policemen stood to hear the jurors' verdicts. Each officer was charged with two counts of second degree murder, but jurors were allowed to consider a number of lesser offenses: first or second degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and reckless endangerment. On every count, the verdict was not guilty.

During this hour, we will hear from Amadou Diallo's mother, from New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and others. Our own legal analyst, Greta Van Susteren, is standing by. And we will go live to the Bronx, where Amadou Diallo lived and died, and where about 200 angry but nonviolent demonstrators have gathered on the streets.

First though, what happened just over one year ago and how the case unfolded?

CNN's Deborah Feyerick traces the events which led to this evening's verdicts.


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: In the early morning hours of February 4, 19 of 41 bullets fired at Amadou Diallo, ripped into his body.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It happened in a flash on a cold winter's night. Amadou Diallo, a 22-year-old West African street vendor, shot dead by four New York City police officers.

The officers are members of an elite, undercover, street crimes unit. On patrol that night, they spot Diallo, who they say fit the description of the serial rapist they were seeking. What's more he looks suspicious, they say, darting in and out of the doorway of his Bronx home. When the cops approach and Diallo reaches into his pocket, something else doesn't seem quite right.

STEPHEN WORTH, ATTORNEY FOR OFFICERS: These officers believed that Mr. Diallo had a gun. That's the only reason that shots were fired.

FEYERICK: Diallo has no gun and no criminal record. By the time the shooting stops, the officers have fired 41 times.

SHARPTON: This is an outright slaughter. If he was facing a firing squad, he would not have been shot at 41 times.

FEYERICK: Nineteen bullets strike the immigrant from Guinea.

GIULIANI: It obviously troubles both the police commissioner and me that 41 shots were fired. We don't know the reason for it at this point.

FEYERICK: At a funeral service, Diallo's simple coffin quickly becomes a symbol. His mother, arriving from West Africa...

K. AMADOU: Why? Amadou, why?

FEYERICK: ... Collapses in anguish over the loss of her first- born son. The Diallo parents are quickly embraced by local activists who put Amadou's death on the national agenda.

DIALLO: This horrible atrocity should not happen to somebody else. I wish the whole world to know.

FEYERICK (on camera): The shooting of Amadou Diallo comes to represent something much larger, for it ignites smoldering anger against New York City's crime fighting Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and against what are perceived as the police department's tough tactics.

PROTESTERS: Justice for Amadou! Stop killer cops!

FEYERICK (voice-over): Even though crime is at its lowest levels in 30 years, the Diallo shooting comes to be seen, by some, as the hidden price. Aggressive tactics, critics charge, creating a climate of mutual mistrust and hostility between police and minorities.

GIULIANI: This police department, for all its faults and imperfections -- and I'm acutely aware of them -- is the best in the country.

FEYERICK: The timing of the shooting also doesn't help. Coming on the heels of the police torture of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima, inside a Brooklyn Precinct station house.

SHARPTON: No more, no more!

PROTESTERS: No more, no more!

SHARPTON: No more, no more!

PROTESTERS: No more, no more!

FEYERICK: Angry at what they call race-based policing, protesters picket outside federal court. And then, nearly a month after the shooting...

PROTESTERS: Thirty-eight! Thirty-nine! Forty! Forty-one!

FEYERICK: ... with the Bronx District attorney investigating, and no charges yet filed against the officers...


PROTESTERS: Fight back!


PROTESTERS: Fight back.

FEYERICK: ... hundreds descend on police headquarters, in acts of civil disobedience, blocking the front entrance everyday for two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: If you refuse to leave, you'll be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

FEYERICK: In all, nearly 1,200 demonstrators are arrested...

REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: I got a son and I would hate to believe that in this great city, that he could get shot just for because of where he lives or the color of his skin.

FEYERICK: ... including politicians, celebrities, and the head of the NAACP.

KWESI MFUME, NAACP PRESIDENT: You look at all those people out there and people who are coming to New York, it's to pile on, it's to keep this issue alive and make sure that we never forget.

FEYERICK (on camera): So what did happen that night? The confusion begins when one of the officers thinks he sees Diallo reaching for a gun. He fires. Then he says he sees another officer falling backwards. Thinking their partner is shot, the others open fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since 1990, we've had 23 police officers killed in the line of duty. Where is New York outraged about that.

FEYERICK (voice-over): On the advice of their lawyers, the four officers stay virtually in seclusion. Other officers come out in their defense, staging rallies.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: This happened to be a mistake, it's not a crime. And it is being prosecuted unfairly by the public.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: It's completely wrong for anyone to judge these four officers without having the facts.

FEYERICK: Officers say Diallo's death is a symbol of good cops caught in a bad situation.

PATRICK LYNCH, NYPD UNION PRESIDENT: Was it a tragedy? Absolutely. It's a tragedy no parent should have to deal with: losing their child. But nonetheless, it doesn't make it a crime.

FEYERICK: A grand jury finds evidence otherwise.

ROBERT JOHNSON, BRONX DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The Bronx Grand Jury has charged defendants Kenneth Boss, Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon, and Richard Murphy with a three-count indictment.

FEYERICK: None of the officers testify before the grand jury because of what their lawyers call a politically-charged atmosphere. The Bronx district attorney charges the four men with second-degree murder, carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison.

JOHNSON: Certainly, we are in need of law and order, but we should not have to sacrifice the freedoms they are designed to protect.

FEYERICK: At a tightly guarded Bronx courthouse, the four officers are arraigned. All plead innocent.

KENNETH BOSS, CONVICTED OFFICER: I'm not guilty of any crimes.

RICHARD MURPHY, CONVICTED OFFICER: I did nothing wrong and this trial will show that I did nothing wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: The members of the Street Crimes Unit, stand your heads proud.

FEYERICK: Soon after the Diallo shooting, command of the Street Crimes Unit is split up. And the officers made to wear uniforms.

HOWARD SAFIR, NYPD COMMISSIONER: Street Crime has reduced their activity. And because of that, we are beginning to see a spike in shootings.

FEYERICK: Fearful the officers can't get a fair trial in the Bronx, their lawyers petition for a change of venue. An appeals court orders the trial moved to Albany. It's there that the four officers prepare to describe what happened that chilling night last February.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.

FRAZIER: And here, we take a break. We will go to Albany next and see what this case looked like from the jury box.

ANNOUNCER: When we return, a day-by-day look at the drama in the courtroom.


UNIDENTIFIED DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They made a mistake, but they honestly believed that this guy was shooting at them.

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: He was unarmed. He was doing nothing wrong.


ANNOUNCER: This special edition of NEWSSTAND will be right back.


FRAZIER: The trial of the four officers charged in the Diallo case took only three weeks. Cameras were permitted in the Albany courtroom, so we can recount how the trial unfolded. Even though Amadou Diallo is black and the four defendants are white, issues of race were raised only briefly. As outlined in openings statements, the defense hinged on the officer's belief their lives were in danger. Prove that, their actions were justifiable self defense. Fail to prove that, that would be murder.


ERIC WARNER, PROSECUTOR: In the 1990s, in Bronx County, Albany County, or anywhere else a human being should have been able to stand in a vestibule of his own home and not be shot to death, especially when those doing the shooting are police officers sworn to protect innocent people.

BENNETT EPSTEIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: These police officers honestly and reasonably believed that they were confronting an armed criminal in the vestibule that night.

WARNER: Amadou was 5"6' tall, and he weighed 150 pounds. Physically, he was not an imposing man.

EPSTEIN: Had Mr. Diallo stopped to answer the officer's questions, like the fellow that they had an encounter with about an hour before, the whole thing would have ended peaceably moments later, and we wouldn't be here.

WARNER: They would not call out any commands like, "stop," "police," "don't move." They would then fire a total of 41 shots at Amadou Diallo, and Amadou Diallo would die.

EPSTEIN: We believe that the fact that 41 shots were fired indicates the fear that the officers had of being shot.

WARNER: One bullet went through Amadou Diallo's chest, his aorta, his left lung, his spine and his spinal cord.

EPSTEIN: The entire 16-shot magazine can be fired by the average officer in less than four seconds.

WARNER: We will prove by the number of shots fired at a very close range that this man, who was cornered and killed in the vestibule of his home, that these four defendants intended to kill him, and therefore, are guilty of murder.

EPSTEIN: What they're trying to do, the prosecution, is to take a tragic accident and find a way to charge it as a crime, to take an accident and make it a murder.


FRAZIER: The opening arguments. Once testimony began, witnesses were asked what they heard. At issue, how the police discharged their weapons. Was there a pause? Prosecutors said that would mean officers had time to see that Diallo was wounded, and said that anymore shooting showed that they intended to kill him. Another issue: Did police continue shooting even after Diallo was down?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please describe the pattern of the sounds you heard when you say you heard a shooting. Just using your voice first, what was the pattern?

DEBBIE RIVERA, WITNESS: It ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba.

DEENAUTH BASSIT, WITNESS: Boom, boom, boom, boom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you hear anybody yell right before the shots, "stop?"


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you hear anybody yell, "I want to talk to you?"


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you tell us what the gap was between the first set of shots and the second.

THOMAS BELL, WITNESS: It's approximately three to five seconds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it your position that those 16 happened while he was standing?

DR. JOSEPH COHEN, FORMER MEDICAL EXAMINER: No, it's not. The gunshot wound, in my opinion, is a wound that was inflicted when he was necessarily down. The entrance is on the under surface of his shoe, and it passes upward through his toe.

DR. MARTIN FACKLER, WOUND BALLISTICS EXPERT: To me, the evidence is clear that he was standing.

DR. RICHARD MASON, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: He struck while he's upright for most of these shots.


FRAZIER: Some of the most dramatic testimony came from the defendants themselves. All four police officers took the stand and spoke for the first time in public about what happened.


SEAN CARROLL, DEFENDANT: He stepped backwards, back into the vestibule, as we were approaching, like he didn't want to be seen, and then we passed by, and I'm looking at him, and I'm trying to figure out what's going on.

EDWARD MCMELLON, DEFENDANT: I could hear Sean to the left of me say something to the effect of, "Police. Can I have a word with you?"

CARROLL: He just didn't want to listen.

MCMELLON: Mr. Diallo began to frantically try to pull something out of his right side.

CARROLL: Has he pulled the object, all I could see was a top, what looked like a slide of a black gun.

MCMELLON: He was gripping a black square object, and I thought it was a gun.

CARROLL: Believing that he had just pulled, and was about to fire a gun at my partner, I fired my weapon.

MCMELLON: I heard Sean yell, "He's got had a gun!" And I screamed, "What are you doing?" And I fired.

KENNETH BOSS, DEFENDANT: Can I see your gun? And I said, my God, I'm going to die. I fired my weapon.

RICHARD MURPHY, DEFENDANT: I had this, like, empty feeling. I felt like I'm going to be hit, going to be shot.

MCMELLON: I didn't want to die.

MURPHY: I pulled my trigger, and I jumped out of the way.

MCMELLON: All I could remember was trying to fire as fast as I could.

CARROLL: When I removed the object from his hand, which I believed to be a gun, I grabbed it, and it felt soft. I looked down at it in my left hand, and I seen it was a wallet.

MURPHY: What should have been a gun was a wallet.

BOSS: I just kept saying over and over, "I can't believe that there's no gun."

CARROLL: At that point, the individual was still moving on the floor. He was breathing. I told him, "Don't die. Don't die. Keep breathing."

BOSS: I just -- I couldn't talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How come you couldn't talk? BOSS: I was really going into shock.

CARROLL: I lifted up his shirt a few inches, and I observed two bullet holes to his lower mid-section. I said, "Oh my God," and I just held him his hand, and I rubbed his face. "Please don't die."


(END VIDEOTAPE) FRAZIER: Prosecutors and defense attorneys used their closing arguments to debate whether the shooting of Amadou Diallo was a defensible mistake or a crime.


STEPHEN WORTH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What happened on February 4, 1999 at Wheeler Avenue was human error committed by humans, all the humans there.

ERIC WARNER, PROSECUTOR: When Amadou Diallo stood in the entranceway to his home at 1157 Wheeler Ave, he had an absolute right to be there.

JOHN PATTEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They were wrong. They made a mistake. But they honestly believed that this guy was shooting at them.

EPSTEIN: He was unarmed, he was doing nothing wrong, and he was minding his own business. The only things that he had on him at the time was his wallet, his beeper and his keys.

PATTEN: The officers had no time at all to make a decision. There was a split second in time that the decision was made. They had no time to think. They could only react.

EPSTEIN: They want to write this off as a split second encounter. They had plenty of time, plenty of time, but they started off by looking at him in a way they shouldn't have.

PATTEN: These officers acted reasonably. When that man turned around, that was it. You can't ask them to stand there and wait to get blasted away.

EPSTEIN: Well, that's not what it was. It was a terrible series of conscious decisions to approach him that fell far short of respecting his dignity and preserving his life.

PATTEN: What the prosecutor has done here is take what is clearly a terrible, terribly sad accident, a mistake, and turned it into a crime.

EPSTEIN: I ask you to find these defendants guilty of the intentional, depraved, reckless, unreasonable and unnecessary conduct that jeopardized the lives of Amadou Diallo's neighbors and destroyed Amadou Diallo's life.

Thank you.


FRAZIER: After more than 20 hours of deliberations, late today, jurors rejected all of the prosecution's arguments, and as we have mentioned, they found the four officers not guilty on all counts. They also asked the judge to announce this did not want to talk about what happened in the jury room, but the verdicts do have many others talking, and we will hear from some of them in a moment.



TERESI: What was your verdict in reference to the charge of reckless endangerment to the first degree under the third count of the indictment.



ANNOUNCER: What happened after the verdicts were read, the latest reaction from in and outside the courtroom.


REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: This is not the end. This is only the beginning.


ANNOUNCER: The shooting victim's mother, vocal throughout this entire ordeal.


DIALLO: If the people do not make any right judgment for this, everybody will be really a target one day.


ANNOUNCER: When we return, Mrs. Diallo joins us for reaction.

NEWSSTAND is coming back in a moment.


FRAZIER: All during this trial's three weeks and 29 witnesses, CNN's Maria Hinojosa was covering events, and she joins us now, first, with what's happening in Albany tonight, and also with questions for Amadou Diallo's mother.

Maria, Hi.


Well right now, in Albany, you have several different families that are dealing with many different emotions regarding these not- guilty verdicts. The families of the police officers, I was told by the defense attorneys, at first in shock after hearing these verdicts, and then they are now, I've been told, eating dinner and relaxing, making plans to return to New York City. You also have the family of Amadou Diallo, who are dealing with their own emotions regarding these verdicts. Now just about over five and a half hours ago, the police officers, who would no longer be called defendants, were sitting and waiting, holding prayer beads, expressing relief, hugging each other. They had faced up to 25 years to life in prison, acquitted of all charges, from second-degree murder, all the way down to reckless endangerment. They were expressing relief. Outside the courtroom, their attorney said justice had been done.


STEPHEN WORTH, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We are obviously very gratified with the verdict here today. There are no victories in this case. There was a loss of a life, and four police officers lives are changed forever. We are proud of this jury who had thing strength and courage to listen to the facts in this case and come back with the proper verdict.


HINOJOSA: For the Bronx district attorney who was representing this case, a complaint. In December, the trial was moved from the Bronx here to Albany, because it was said that pretrial publicity would taint the jury.


ROBERT JOHNSON, BRONX DISTRICT ATTORNEY: No one could ever say what the difference would have been had this case been tried in the Bronx. However, I feel very, very strongly that the appellate division was totally incorrect in changing the venue. The defense motion indicated that jurors in the Bronx would out any aside feelings that they had and be fair and impartial. Their own poll indicated that. There's no question that 12 fair people could have been found in the Bronx. We are satisfied that these 12 were fair also.


HINOJOSA: New York Mayor Rodulph Giuliani expressing -- asking for calm and expressing condolences to all sides of those involved in this trial.


MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK CITY: The death of Amadou Diallo was a great tragedy. We express, once again, our sympathy, our condolences and our support to Mrs. Diallo, to Mr. Diallo, to the Diallo family. There's no way that any of us, particularly those of us who are parents, can comprehend what it means to lose a child. We also express sympathy in the strongest terms to the four police officers who were involved in this case and to their families who have gone through also a nightmare, and probably even with the resolution of this case and Judge Teresi's words that the book is closed on this case. For these police officers and their families, it's going take along time to recover from what they've gone through.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HINOJOSA: Supporters of the Diallo family said they were not defeated, that this was only the beginning of their federal fight in the civil rights court. They also asked for calm in the streets.


SHARPTON: I've been asked by the families to go to the street where Amadou lived, to let the people know that we've not given up, but that we do not want to tarnish his name with any violence. Let not one brick be thrown, not one bottle be thrown, not one evidence of violence come from us. We are fighting violence, violent men that shoot an unarmed man 41 times and then stand up in court and try to act like there's justification for that. Do not confuse us with the violent ones and the reckless ones.


HINOJOSA: We are joined now by Mrs. Kadiatou Diallo, Amadou Diallo's mother, and by her attorney, Bob Conason.

Let me turn to you first, Kadiatou. You have been living in the United States ever since your son was killed. Can you take us to what you were thinking and feeling in your heart when the you heard the not-guilty verdicts being read?

KADIATOU DIALLO, MOTHER: I was stunned by the verdict. It was very hard. I expected at least they could have been convict them of something because human life is valuable. And an unarmed man has been shot 41 times. And to just tell them that they should go, thank you, that they did nothing wrong, I am very, very surprised by that verdict.

HINOJOSA: What would justice be for you, Mrs. Diallo?

DIALLO: Well, justice means to convict them of what they have done to Amadou. Because even though he died, but this is justice not only for Amadou, but for the other people living in the Bronx, because they didn't know who they were dealing with. Definitely they just saw him for the color of his skin and they say he was suspicious. Suspicious? This is beyond the limit. I will not understand that statement.

HINOJOSA: What happens next, Mrs. Diallo? Are you angry? Do you feel defeated? Are you going to go even further with this fight?

DIALLO: No, I'm not defeated because I'm determined to go as far as possible with the federal justice system to see that justice was done, because we don't want to see this thing again to happen to any other family.

HINOJOSA: You have said that you -- that Amadou Diallo -- you have told me that Amadou Diallo loved this country, that ever since he was a young man, he used to dream of coming here, that he loved basketball and Michael Jordan. You said you have faith in the American justice system.

Do you still have faith in the justice system? And what would you say to these jurors, Mrs. Diallo?

DIALLO: I still have faith in the justice system because America is a country of role model worldwide. I'm sure that many people are looking at this trial, and it has to be an example to everyone because when Amadou was shot 41 times, for sure that news traveled around the world.

And what I can say to the jury, that I thank them for their patience, that I don't blame them, but I wish that Amadou have right to be also addressed. The people should think of Amadou's rights because even the dead people have rights, too.

HINOJOSA: Bob Conason, you are representing the Diallo family estate in a civil lawsuit against the city.

What do these not-guilty verdicts mean for your case now?

ROBERT CANASON, DIALLO FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, I've watched this whole trial and I'm pretty cautious. You know, lawyers are cautious. But I'll tell you this: I'm positive of one thing, we will succeed in the civil case. We will get a verdict against these defendants and that's clear.

But, moreover, we're really hopeful that the federal government will institute a civil rights action. We have conferred with them. We've met with Eric Holder and we're going to meet again, and we're confident that something will happen.

HINOJOSA: Finally, Mrs. Diallo, this has been called a racially charged case. Your son was shot by four white police officers, he was African.

What can happen now to heal?

DIALLO: Well, it takes the life of innocent men for the people to understand that black people also can be innocent. You don't look at them by the color of their skin. If Amadou's cause helped to bring the people together and to accept and value the human life, I'll be relieved. I hope that one day it will happen and very soon.

HINOJOSA: Thank you very much for joining us, Bob Conason, Kadiatou Diallo...

DIALLO: Thank you.

HINOJOSA: We will continue to monitor developments both here in Albany and back in New York City as this -- as the -- this trial continues to be resolved.

Back to you Steve.

FRAZIER: Maria, thank you.

CNN's Maria Hinojosa in Albany tonight.

And next on this special edition of NEWSSTAND, we go to the scene of the shooting for reaction from the Bronx.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to walk around in fear now, you know. It's like a -- it's like a license to do whatever you want to minorities. It's not right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, we could walk down the block and they could just tell us to stop, and then they could shoot us for no reason.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just upset about this verdict, man. I don't know what them people was thinking about. Man, we got to walk around -- I got keys in my hand, now when I come out at night I got to carry my wallet in my hand and my keys.


FRAZIER: Demonstrations in the streets.

We'll go there live when NEWSSTAND returns.


FRAZIER: The Bronx neighborhood in which Amadou Diallo was gunned down is known as, Soundview, and a man who lives there now says the community is going to be hurting a while because of the acquittals. Another neighbor says the message of the verdicts is simply, don't move or you might get shot.

We turn again to Deborah Feyerick who's in Diallo's neighborhood now.

Deborah, what is happening there tonight?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Stephen, there are still about 50 people here outside of Amadou Diallo's apartment. Most of the crowd has dispersed.

Earlier, though, there were about 200 demonstrators altogether, they were chanting, they were holding up wallets in the air saying, don't shoot. That, of course, a reference to the wallet Amadou Diallo was pulling from his pocket, the wallet that the four police officers mistook for a gun.

Now at one point the crowd moved towards the end of the block. They were met by about 50 police officers in riot gear. They were not allowed to march through the Bronx as they had intended. That is the only time where anger seemed to tick up a notch, but for the most part, the demonstrators here, very peaceful.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank God that I have daughters and not sons, and my heart goes out to every woman that has a son of color in this -- in this -- in this city. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's crazy. I think you set a precedent. Anyone can be killed now and the cops will be justified in their killing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they need to go into their police system and recruit people from this neighborhood, that's in the boroughs, you understand? Who may, more or less, kind of know, wouldn't be so trigger happy.


FEYERICK: Now, community leaders are calling for peace. The Bronx borough president said acts of destruction will not change the verdict.


FERNANDO FERRER, BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT: There's a lot of high emotion out in the community, but we've got to keep focused on those areas of change in the management of the police department and positive reform that we need to begin building that relationship of trust that we need between the police department and the people they serve and protect.


FEYERICK: One of the demonstrators here said he's not sentencing all police officers, but he did say that he felt that that they needed to change how they perceived a young black man, and he was a young black man. Now there were 15 arrests tonight, the majority of them in this area, for disorderly conduct. There were also two other arrests by the 43rd precinct. A whole group of demonstrators marched over there in the evening, demanding the resignation of the Bronx district attorney.

Now you can hear the crowd behind me, they're beginning to cheer once again, to get their message out, to make their sure their voices are heard. There will be a number of other marches tomorrow. We are told one here, outside of the apartment where Amadou Diallo was shot, and again, this was just over a year ago, right here on this very street. There will also be a march, we are being told, in midtown Manhattan.

Reporting live from the Bronx, Deborah Feyerick, CNN. Back to you, Stephen.

FRAZIER: Deborah, I know there's a lot of ground for you to cover there, but were you able to see just how disorderly disorderly conduct has been to an warrant arrest of those 15 people?

FEYERICK: A number of people got very, very when the police stopped them at the end of this block. That's when they sort of got unruly. They dispersed at that point, going in two different directions, and that's when the police sort of stepped in. The police have been very tight in their control of this area, and they're making sure that nothing gets outs hand. FRAZIER: Deborah, thanks very much.

Another break now. Our legal analyst Greta Van Susteren joins us when we come back for a look at the Diallo case and the law, including civil rights laws, that may still apply.


FRAZIER: Members of the 2000 presidential field are already weighing-in on the Diallo case verdict. Bill Bradley said he is stunned by the acquittals. He has renewed his push for an end to racial profiling. Al Gore is urging calm and calling for a thorough and fair review of the case by the Justice Department. A spokesman for George W. Bush says the Texas governor thinks Diallo's death was a tragedy, but also believes it's important to have faith in our systems of laws.

For perspective on today's verdict in the context of that system, we turn now to CNN legal analyst Greta Van Susteren.

Greta, hi.

VAN SUSTEREN: Hello, Stephen.

FRAZIER: We heard just a few minutes ago one lawyer say that he's bringing a civil suit about this case. Are there grounds for a civil suit?

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but what it would be called is a wrongful death action. He would bring it against the police officers and also the police officer's employers, which would be the city of New York, and it would be for taking his life, and doing it in a negligent fashion. The burden of proof in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt. They have been found not guilty. That burden was not met. In a civil case, it's simply 51 percent of the evidence, a preponderance of the evidence, and in that particular case, it would be one for money damages. It would not be to put anyone in jail, like a criminal case is.

And I suppose the best analogy is the O.J. Simpson case, which was a criminal case. O.J. Simpson was found not guilty. He was then sued civilly by the estate of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, and a money verdict was returned against O.J. Simpson.

FRAZIER: There's another link to the O.J. Simpson case, in that the Dream Team, Johnnie Cochran and his associates, were originally retained by the Diallo familiar, is that right?

VAN SUSTEREN: That's right. They were originally going to bring the civil suit, but I understand now Johnnie Cochran is not on the case anymore.

FRAZIER: What would that be about? Are you familiar with his replacement?

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know why, but it could be for any number of reasons. It could be that Johnnie Cochran has got the, you know, the worst schedule in the world, and he's unavailable for the clients. It could be he has conflicts of interest. It could be that they didn't get along. It may be they had different ideas of how the case should proceed. It's not unusual for lawyers to leave cases, for lawyers to be fired or for lawyers to quit.

FRAZIER: All right, now what about the case of a federal trial now on civil rights issues?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well you know, a lot of people complain because sometimes after there's been a state case and there's been an acquittal, the federal government then steps in and files charges against the accused. We saw it in the Rodney King case. We often hear, well, isn't that double jeopardy? Haven't you been tried twice for the same crime. And the answer is, technically, no. because you are first charged with violating state laws, and then the second time you're charged with violating federal laws, but even though they are different laws, and it is not double jeopardy, some people think it's unfair to try someone for essentially the same conduct.

FRAZIER: If that were to be brought up, would they bring up the issue of race more in the federal case?

VAN SUSTEREN: No. It would be -- race always would be an issue, but it would be that he was deprived of his civil rights, that this man was allowed to walk down the street, and that the police officers stopped him without any reason and essentially deprived him of civil rights, and then took it one step further and shot him in an unreasonable fashion, that Amadou Diallo had a right to be free from that type of police intrusion, both the stop and the shooting.

FRAZIER: Well, that brings up another issue about how the police are acting.

Greta, as we thank you for your contributions here, we want to point out that coming in this special edition, we turn to that kind of issue. Perspective on the shooting and the potential impact of today's acquittals from a former New York State trooper with more than two decades on the job.


FRAZIER: Forty-one bullets fired and a suspect unarmed. Some don't understand how that could happen. So joining us now is a man who spent 22 years as a member of the New York State Police, Robert Castelli, who is now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the the City University of New York.

Professor Castelli, thank you for joining us.


FRAZIER: You heard this called an elie unit. What's elite about it? CASTELLI: Well, in essence, these are volunteer officers. And as a result of which, they have officers who've been specially selected to work in street crime in a plain-clothes capacity.

FRAZIER: Do they get a little more pay for that?

CASTELLI: No, they don't. There may be some prestige associated with it. Some people have thought that it might have been a route to a quicker promotion perhaps, but by and large basically it's just a group of officers who volunteer to do what can often be very arduous and very dangerous work.

FRAZIER: Some people from the community have pointed out that it seems to be almost all white, and they work in neighborhoods that seem to be almost all black. Is that a recipe for trouble?

CASTELLI: I don't know that it's exactly a recipe for trouble. I think the point we have to remember is this is an all-volunteer unit. We've got many, many minorities, both blacks and Hispanics, in NYPD, and of course if they don't volunteer for service in a unit like this, obviously the demographics are such that you're going to end up with all-white police officers. But I don't think there's any reason to think that it's suspicious.

FRAZIER: This unit was working well, but what would happen to it now? They shrank it, gave them uniforms, and you heard earlier in the story, the commissioner said they've have had shootings go up.

CASTELLI: Well, you know, I think when look at the nature of policing in New York City, we've had what we might call a peace dividend, based upon a rather aggressive, but effective police tactics over the last decade, starting with Commissioner Braten's (ph) reign. We've seen street crime go down steadily down under Commissioner Braten, as well as the mayor of the city of New York, Rudy Giuliani. As a result of which, we start to see this peace dividend, in effect, unfold that is a result, we see the crime going down.

So perhaps, it could be argued that while this unite was incredibly effective and did a fabulous job, that as crime dereases, that then so does the necessity to keep units like this.

FRAZIER: What would replace them, though, the sort of the man on the beat from the neighborhood?

CASTELLI: Yes, I think you would go back to a standard community- policing scenario where uniform police officers patrol, both on foot and cars and in patrol cars, and made a more visible presence in the community. You can't necessarily deplace this type of selected enforcement always.

In a city as large as New York, we got a lot of complex problems and there's always going be a call for units such as this.

FRAZIER: New York always been said that their police are already on the ground and more sensitive than L.A., where they chopper above the cityscape and don't know the police as well. CASTELLI: Well, I think that can be said. You know, the era of community policing started over 20 or 30 years, and as a result of which we brought the police back into the neighborhood. We put a face behind the badge by bringing them into the neighborhoods, putting them back on the street corner where people can talk to them and they can relate to people as human beings. And that's a very good thing and we see this happening in this city as well as in many of the major cities.

FRAZIER: They're probably change to come.

Professor Castelli, thank you for joining us tonight.

CASTELLI: My pleasure.

FRAZIER: And, so we've come to the end of this hour, to recap now: four New York City police officers stand acquitted of all charges in connection with the shooting of Amadou Diallo.

In the Bronx where the shooting occurred just over a year ago, demonstrators, upset with the verdict have been vocal, but non- violent.

The Justice Department, civil rights division has opened an investigation to see whether federal action is warranted in the case.

That's all for us tonight. Next week on NEWSSTAND, the king of shopping mall design fore swears the suburbs and heads downtown, not just to sell products but to bring cities back to life.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost like having an old car you'd find in a barn that hasn't been started for -- you know for decades and you figure out out a way to reconstruct it and turn the starter engine, boom it comes back to life.

Well, I've done that with cities, and you can take burn-out cities and start them up again, and it's a very exciting and rewarding thing.


FRAZIER: The man whose designs have been called the cathedrals of our time and do we like, next Monday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

I'm Stephen Frazier. "SPORTS TONIGHT" is up next, for all of us here at NEWSSTAND, good night from the newsstand.


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