Diallo's mother seeks new attorney in police shooting case
August 13, 1999
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Kadiatou Diallo, the mother of an unarmed West African immigrant who died in a hail of police bullets in February, wants to dump some of the country's most famous lawyers as the family pursues a wrongful death suit against the city of New York.
Mrs. Diallo is seeking to replace the high-profile team of Johnnie Cochran, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld.
"She wants to take a different approach," said Bob Conason, the new lawyer retained to handle the lawsuit. Her brother, Bob Diallo, told The New York Times that Mrs. Diallo "wants someone who has got enough time for her."
Amadou Diallo, a 22-year-old street peddler from Guinea, died on February 4 after being shot in the vestibule of his Bronx apartment building by four police officers.
Before the lawyer change can become official, it must be approved by the legal "administrator" of Amadou Diallo's estate.
That position, which Mrs. Diallo would like to assume for herself, is now held by the Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, an associate of the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Walker has offered to step down before, according to attorney Kyle Watters, who has also represented the Diallo family.
Watters said that Amadou Diallo's mother and his father, Saikou, who are divorced, disagree on how to handle their son's estate, prompting the change of attorneys.
"We're in the middle of a matrimonial dispute," Watters said.
Currently, the estate has no assets, a situation that would change if the civil suit is successful.
The four officers who shot Amadou Diallo were patrolling in plain clothes as part the city's undercover street crimes unit, which focuses on seizing illegally possessed guns.
Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon, Kenneth Boss, and Richard Murphy have each pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and are free on $100,000 bail.
Their attorneys have said the officers thought Diallo was reaching for a gun and did not fall until the firing stopped. A total of 41 shots were fired at Diallo, 19 of them striking him.
In the past two weeks, defense attorneys have filed motions to have the charges reduced or dismissed. If convicted, the officers would face a maximum of 25 years-to-life in prison.
Cochran, Scheck, and Neufeld defended O.J. Simpson in his trial for murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown, winning an acquittal in 1995.
The same team, in the Diallo case, had alleged that the four officers kept firing at Diallo even after he had fallen to the ground -- evidence, they said, for the wrongful death case.
Officers indicted in Diallo case want murder charges dismissed
New York City
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