A man who ostensibly attempted to commit suicide by throwing himself into oncoming traffic in New York’s Times Square will be charged with a crime. According to an ABA Journal.com report, NYPD officers opened fire on the man because they feared that he was reaching for a gun when he put his hands in his pockets (as opposed to putting them in the air) when the officers confronted him.
Two other bystanders were hit by stray bullets fired by police.
The man was also subdued by a Taser. Nevertheless, he was charged with assault based on the notion that he “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.”
The story suggests that changes may be in order for how police in New York, (as well as North Carolina) deal with the mentally ill in tense situations. The man’s lawyer explained to the New York Times that his client was “disoriented, depressed and anxious” when police opened fire on him. It was also reported that the man was talking to dead people in his head and was attempting to kill himself.
It was found that the man did not have a gun, or any weapon for that matter.
The story also exemplifies the need for experienced criminal defense counsel when mental health issues lead to criminal charges. It could be argued that the man did not have the requisite mental intent to harm the officers (or anyone else) since his focus likely on joining the dead people who were communicating to him. It remains to be seen whether these charges will be resolved without a trial.
Source: ABA Journal.com, “Man is charged in police shooting of bystanders though he carried no weapon,” Debra Cassens Weiss, December 5, 2013