March 2018, Post Trivia – The Victim Was Blue!

March 2018
Post 13 Trivia – The Victim Was Blue!
John Young, Patrolman

“We failed,” the current Police Commissioner said the morning after the Bronx shooting involving Sergeant Hugh Barry, in October 2016. Commissioner O’Neill echoed those words and other remarks that suggested the Bronx sergeant did not follow procedures because he did not use his stun gun nor call specially trained ESU detectives to the scene.

Mayor De Blasio then displayed his police bias by suggesting in a statement that the sergeant’s shooting did not meet the standards for the use of deadly force. He further stated that the emotionally disturbed woman would be alive right now had the sergeant not used his gun. “Jimmy The Cop,” and “Big Bird” rushed to judgment, rather than wait until a primary investigation was concluded. Remember that the Bronx D.A.’s office does not allow the department to talk to the subject (shooter) nor give him “use immunity.”

History Repeats Itself! It appears that the fatal shooting caused commentary by Bronx Boro President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who compared Deborah Danner’s death with that of Eleanor Bumpers, by P.O. Steve Sullivan, in 1984. After checking the internet, it was discovered that Mr. Diaz was 11 years old when Emergency Service was called to the Marshall’s job (eviction) in the Bronx Project. Eleanor Bumpers had barricaded herself in the apartment and two ESU trucks were called to gain entry into the apartment.

Three ESU officers, armed with a Y-shaped bar and two shields, entered the apartment and attempted to pin the women against the wall. Sullivan, armed with a pump 12 gauge shotgun was behind the entry team. Well, things went wrong as the woman (armed with a 10-inch kitchen knife) freed herself from the bar and started swiping the knife at the officers. Sullivan stepped forward and fired a shot to stop the attack on the cop with the Y-bar. As Ms. Bumpers continued to come at the cop, Sullivan thought his shot missed her, and fired a second shot. Time between shots: the time (seconds) to chamber a round.

Commissioner Ward called the actions of the evicting cops “dumb,” but defended the shooting by Officer Sullivan. Then Bronx District Attorney Mario Merola stated, “The cops should have locked the door and went for coffee.” Eventually Sullivan testified before a Bronx Grand Jury, along with thirty other witnesses. After two months of deliberation, in January 1985, he was indicted for manslaughter/2nd degree. Sullivan’s Attorney Bruce Smirti filed a motion for dismissal. Motion was granted by Judge Vitale in April 1985. However, Merola’s office went to the State Court of Appeals. (See People v. Sullivan 116 A.D. 2Nd 101, on LEAGLE, to see some of the testimony.) The Court ruled 6 to 1 to reinstate the indictment.

Rather than a jury trial, Sullivan chose a bench trial before Judge Fred Eggert in Bronx Supreme Court. The six-week trial ended on February 26, 1987, with Judge Eggert finding Sullivan not guilty. Leonard Levitt (NYPD Confidential) has suggested recently that the judicial system protects cops in fatal shootings, especially in the Bronx. He couldn’t understand how the judge was chosen, especially since the pro-cop judge was nearing retirement. Well, Lenny, the judge was chosen by lottery with his name being picked from a bingo basket after Sullivan’s second arraignment!

Same can be said of other cops who were indicted on criminal charges for taking police action while on duty. The list includes Carol Esserman & John Maher (42 Pct), Luis Pagan (42 Pct), Accosta, Solares, Moore & Hurtag (42 Pct), Marvin Yearwood (43 Pct), Martinez & Morarity (44 Pct), Febus & McCaffrey (46 Pct) and Pat Campbell (40 Pct).
Pat Campbell was indicted on Simple Assault and took a bench trial in Bronx Criminal Court, while both Febus and McCaffrey took a jury trial. All Three officers were acquitted.

Another fatal shooting that resembles both Sullivan and Barry occurred when P.O. Arno Herewith (40 Pct) shot another emotionally disturbed female. Herewith and his partner responded to a 10-58 (assist ambulance). The simple aided case turned into a nightmare, as the female locked herself in the bedroom. Someone said she had a knife and the cop used his nightstick to secure the bedroom door by wrapping the leather strap around the doorknob. Needless to say, the woman attempted to open the door and after severalminutes, the officer lost his grip on the nightstick. The door flung open and the nightstick landed in the bedroom.

The woman grabbed the nightstick and came charging towards Herewith. He fired one shot to stop her as she was about to strike him. The patrol sergeant and emergency service arrived just in time to hear the shot. Both units were equipped with tasers which were required as a result of the Sullivan shooting.

P.O. Herewith was indicted and tried before a judge on manslaughter charges. He was acquitted like the dozen cops before him. His shooting was found to be within department guidelines. P.O. Herewith went on to be promoted to sergeant, while Sullivan returned to full duty at TARU in Queens, and retired in 1990.