Unarmed Man Is Charged With Wounding Bystanders Shot by Police Near Times Square

Read the article for the full summation of events, but a mostly-accurate summary is below, courtesy of sigmaunit.

Guy apparently gets high on something, starts hearing voices, walks into middle of street in an attempt to kill himself, police show up and attempt to stop him, he reaches into pants pocket, police think he has a gun and attempt to shoot him, bullets miss and hit innocent people, suspect is then charged with felony assault because police shoot at him and missed.

Now, this may seem weird, especially the whole police-prosecuting-the-mentally-ill-dude-because-the-cops-shot-and-missed-and-hit-bystanders bit. Especially if you’re not familiar with legal terminology…or most legal things to be honest.

Luckily, that’s one of the many things MJ12 Commando is great for, and he gives a nice explanation of what legal shenanigans are being invoked, with a helpful example.

It’s not really a ‘shooting spree’, it’s more of an extension of the felony murder doctrine (i.e. if you commit a crime, you’re responsible for even unforeseen consequences for your crime). So, for example, if Bubba The Serial Killer busts into a house, and the person inside reasonably empties the entire 200 round belt of his legally owned and fully licensed SAW into Bubba (because Bubba is a horror movie monster or something) and goes through his body and shoots up an orphanage, killing a bunch of orphans, Bubba’s responsible for the deaths of the orphans because he’s the proximate cause of their deaths.

The question thus hinges on whether the NYPD was acting reasonably when they thought he was threatening their lives/the lives of others and were justified to shoot. Assuming they were, charging the crazy man with the injuries caused by people shooting (because of his actions) would be reasonable enough.

Of course, those of you familiar with law might raise the “well he wasn’t actually committing a felony so felony murder doesn’t apply” argument, to which I’ll just paste Ramenth/MJ12’s brief conversation.

felony murder

So, yea.

Interesting case, although this does seem to be a classic case of “Yeah, the law holds up but the NYPD dun goofed [as usual?] whoops.”


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