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NYPD Officers Wound 9 Bystanders During Shootout

Will they be charged with aggravated assault?

Howard Nemerov


August 26, 2012 - 12:09 pm

As coverage of the Empire State Building shooting winds down, this Reuters report is making the media rounds today:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – All nine of the bystanders wounded on Friday near the Empire State Building were hit by police gunfire, six by bullet fragments, when officers fatally shot a man who had killed a former coworker, authorities confirmed on Saturday.

Granted, the two officers were trying to stop an armed shooter before he hurt anybody else. But if an armed citizen accidentally shoots an innocent bystander, they can be charged with violent crimes like aggravated assault or murder. For example, Texas Penal Code states:

RECKLESS INJURY OF INNOCENT THIRD PERSON.  Even though an actor is justified under this chapter in threatening or using force or deadly force against another, if in doing so he also recklessly injures or kills an innocent third person, the justification afforded by this chapter is unavailable in a prosecution for the reckless injury or killing of the innocent third person.

Three wounded bystanders remain hospitalized. The two officers were assigned to administrative duty pending an internal investigation, standard procedure for any police shooting.

Former civilian disarmament supporter and medical researcher Howard Nemerov investigates the civil liberty of self-defense and examines the issue of gun control, resulting in his book Four Hundred Years of Gun Control: Why Isn’t It Working? He appears frequently on NRA News as their “unofficial” analyst and was published in the Texas Review of Law and Politics with David Kopel and Carlisle Moody.
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