Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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24 Cheshvan 5760 - November 3, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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No Indictment in Brooklyn Shooting

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

A Brooklyn grand jury has voted not to indict any of the police officers involved in the shooting death of an emotionally disturbed man in Boro Park, Brooklyn, an incident which sparked street protests by Orthodox Jews.

The Brooklyn District Attorney's office confirmed that the grand jury had concluded that the shooting of the hammer- wielding man, Gary Busch, was justified.

Busch, 31, was killed on the evening of August 30 during a confrontation with police outside his home in Boro Park. Police were responding to reports that a man was threatening people with a hammer. Neighbors later said Busch, a former medical student, had been acting strangely for days.

When officers ordered Busch out of his basement apartment, he flew into a rage and charged up the stairs swinging the 11- inch claw hammer.

Police and witnesses gave conflicting accounts of what happened next. The day after the shooting, Police Commissioner Howard Safir insisted the four officers who fired the 12 shots that hit Busch acted only after he refused to drop the hammer and stop attacking two other officers.

But some witnesses have said the shots rang out after Busch broke free of police and turned to confront them, hammer raised. At the time, the officers were all on their feet and at least six feet away, those witnesses said.

Hundreds of people mostly teenagers demonstrated over the shooting into the early morning hours.

The penal codes says a police officer may shoot to kill when needed to defend another person or fellow officer ''from what the officer reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of deadly force.''

Some activists have criticized the police, saying that it is not reasonable to suppose that six police officers could not subdue a single man, even if armed with a hammer, without killing him.

But Police Commissioner Safir said the grand jury's decision "is consistent with our belief that the actions of the officers were in accordance with New York state law as well as the police department's more restrictive guidelines concerning the use of deadly physical force."

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