New York Post
February 24, 2000



SOLIDARITY: Demonstrators support the defendant cops outside the Albany trial in the police slaying of Amadou Diallo. - AP  

ALBANY -- Jurors began deliberations yesterday in the racially charged murder trial of four white Bronx cops who cut down unarmed West African immigrant Amadou Diallo with 41 shots last year.

The cops face up to life in prison for murder unless the jurors find they fired in self-defense -- in the mistaken, but reasonable, belief that the black leather wallet Diallo pulled from his pocket as he stood in his Bronx vestibule was a gun.

"You should figuratively put yourself in the shoes of each defendant," Albany Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi told jurors during three hours of legal instructions.

Jurors must also parse the distinctions between murder, manslaughter and homicide, and decide if the shooting was intentional, or committed with depraved recklessness, by cops who were "brutal, callous, extremely dangerous and inhuman" as defined by state law.

The day began with Teresi surprising the courtroom by discharging juror No. 4, Dawn Evon -- explaining only that an investigation by Albany County Sheriffs had revealed she'd "talked to someone" about the case.

"I find that she is unable to continue as a fair and impartial juror," Teresi said, adding that the "very embarrassed" Evon -- who has declined to comment on her oversight -- "did not intentionally do it to harm either side."

Evon, who is 33 and white, was immediately replaced by the panel's first alternate juror, a white man in his 20s who described himself during jury selection as a gay-rights activist with a psychology degree.

As the alternate rose to take Evon's chair, his white skin was briefly visible on Court TV, prompting groans from a group of mostly black protesters -- bused up from the city by the Rev. Al Sharpton -- who were watching the proceedings on TV in a separate courtroom.

The jury now has seven men, all white, and five women -- including four black women, two who have lived in The Bronx.

All four cops -- Sean Carroll, Ed McMellon, Kenneth Boss and Richard Murphy -- looked ashen and grim when they filed out of the courtroom to begin the wait for a decision.

As pro-cop protesters chanted for justice outside the courthouse, the panel of seven men and five women disappeared into their deliberations room at lunchtime to begin weighing two weeks of testimony by Diallo's neighbors, pathologists from across the country and the cops.

Each of the four cops faces six charges, including murder, manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

Meanwhile, in anticipation of a verdict, Mayor Giuliani said he expected no unrest but said the city is prepared for anything.

"New York City -- and the New York City Police Department and everybody else in New York City -- is making all appropriate preparations," Giuliani said.

"I have every expectation that all of the people of New York City will act peacefully and lawfully -- whatever the verdict is."