New York Post
February 9, 2000


DOCTOR: DIALLO WAS SHOT AFTER HE FELL

By LAURA ITALIANO

   
A BRONX TALE: Carol Taylor of The Bronx demonstrates yesterday outside the Albany County Courthouse, where four police officers are on trial in the slaying of Amadou Diallo. - AP  

ALBANY -- Four Bronx cops kept firing -- up to 15 shots -- at Amadou Diallo, even after he had crumpled to the floor with his spine severed and his chest filled with blood, a pathologist testified yesterday.

Diallo was hit even after he was paralyzed from the chest down from one of the first of the 19 police bullets to hit him, Dr. Joseph Cohen told jurors, testifying as the final witness for the Bronx district attorney.

The unarmed West African street peddler suffered nearly all of his injuries as he was "on the way down, or down," from that early bullet -- which had hit Diallo square in the front of his chest, Cohen told jurors.

The bullet drilled an inch-and-a-half-wide hole in his aorta, the body's largest artery, then pierced his spine before passing through him, Cohen said.

"Mr. Diallo not only had a rapid drop in blood pressure ... but he also developed instantaneously an inability to support himself" upright, said Cohen, who conducted Diallo's autopsy for the city medical examiner's office. He would have fallen to the ground in "probably on the order of a second, plus or minus," Cohen said.

Nearly all of the other 18 wounds -- 15 of them from bullets that struck Diallo's left side and passed through his right side -- show too little bleeding to have preceded the aorta wound, Cohen said.

"He could have been on the ground for all those 15 shots," Cohen said.

Three other bullets help prove he was shot while he was down, Cohen said.

One, traced through ballistics to Officer Sean Carroll, traveled up his right shin, lodging behind his knee. Another traveled up his left shin before exiting. The third entered the bottom sole of his right sneaker, piercing the middle toe, then exiting from the top of the sneaker.

Prosecutors used the damaging, daylong account to close their case against the four cops on trial for allegedly murdering Diallo after mistaking him for an armed rape suspect as he stood at the door to his Bronx apartment last February.

Lawyers for the cops -- who begin their case today -- fought the damaging autopsy testimony bullet by bullet, with Albany Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi having to repeatedly warn them to lower their voices.

Stephen Worth, lawyer for Edward McMellon, demanded that Cohen explain how Diallo could have been shot straight on in the chest, and then -- although paralyzed -- have turned to expose his left side to 15 more bullets, only to land on the vestibule floor with his left side facing away from the shooting.

Diallo's mother, Kadiatou, who has appeared in court every day for two weeks, stayed in her hotel room yesterday.