New York 1 News

February 24, 2000

Defense Witness Tells Jurors Officers Shot Diallo After He Fell

A witness for the defense in the Amadou Diallo police shooting trial wound up bolstering the prosecution's case during cross examination Wednesday. The defense began presenting its case Wednesday morning. Earlier today, defense attorney's called a neighbor who lives near the Bronx apartment where Diallo was shot to death by four NYPD officers last year to the stand. Schrrie Elliot testified that she was an eyewitness to the shooting and that she heard a man yell "gun" just before the first shots rang out. The defense is trying to prove that the four officers fired 41 shots at Diallo because they believed he had a gun and felt their lives were in danger. The African immigrant was unarmed at the time. However, during cross examination by the prosecution Wednesday, Elliot told jurors that she saw Diallo fall to the ground shortly after the first shots were fired. When pressed, she also testified that she witnessed the officers continuing to fire at Diallo while he was on the ground - a key point in the prosecution's case. The prosecution wrapped up its case Tuesday by calling one of its key witnesses; Doctor Joseph Cohen, who performed the autopsy on Diallo. Holding one of Diallo's shoes up, the doctor showed how a bullet had passed through its sole. Cohen described in graphic detail each of the unarmed African immigrant's 19 bullet wounds and testified that some of the bullets hit Diallo as he was falling or while he was already on the ground. According to Cohen's analysis, one of the first bullets severed Diallo's spine, indicating that he fell almost immediately. However, the defense tried to show the doctor was just guessing about the order of the gun shots and suggested Diallo may have taken longer to fall down. The testimony was so graphic that the judge would not allow parts of it to be televised. Kenneth Boss, Sean Carroll, Edward McMellon and Richard Murphy have pleaded innocent to the second-degree murder charges. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.