The New York attorney general’s office is investigating the case of Wayne Isaacs, an off-duty officer who allegedly shot and killed Delrawn Small, 37, who attacked him during a road rage incident on Monday, The New York Daily News is reporting.
Police say both men pulled over at a red light, and Small exited his vehicle and punched the off-duty policeman repeatedly through an open window. Isaacs had pulled out his service weapon and fatally shot Small. The off-duty cop had just finished his shift and was heading home.
Eric Soufer, a spokesman for the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, revealed that prosecutors had obtained a search warrant for the officer’s vehicle, a 2002 Nissan Altima, and were “actively looking into the case.” The NYPD is also investigating the incident and has gathered surveillance videos, as well as interviewed the officer involved. Police Commissioner William Bratton said it was premature to say if the officer was justified in his use of deadly force.
— UJReview (@UJReview) July 5, 2016
The officer had shot Delrawn Small three times after the 37-year-old man punched him twice in the face and mouth. Small’s girlfriend was in the car with three kids when the deadly confrontation ensued. In a Facebook post after the incident, girlfriend Zaquanna Albert said, “Words can’t begin to explain the pain I feel right now, my heart aches for this man and my son who will never remember his dad.”
Small, his 4-month-old son, his girlfriend, and her two daughters from a previous relationship were driving through East New York to celebrate the Fourth of July with family and friends. A man who witnessed the fatal incident said Small, who was driving a 2016 Kia, got upset when Isaacs recklessly cut him off on the road. A video camera captured Small exiting his car at a red light and approach Isaac,s who was two cars ahead. Police have refused to release the video.
— Tony Johnson (@realgjohnson5) July 5, 2016
Albert admitted to investigators that Small had three drinks at an earlier barbecue and refused to remain in the car despite her pleas. Jermaine Gabriel, another eyewitness, said, “Even if the man did attack you, roll up your window, drive off. Hold yourself to a higher standard… you can get upset, but to kill a man?”
Small had a lengthy rap sheet which included 19 arrests and three convictions, plus time spent behind bars. His last arrest was in 2013 for assault. Isaacs was accused of false arrest in a 2014 lawsuit, and the suspect in that case said he was punched and kicked repeatedly.
This incident has once again raised the controversial issue of deadly force which allows an officer to make a split-second decision and kill to save themselves or others. Some legal experts say the ruling that was established by two Supreme Court decisions in the 1980’s has made it hard for prosecutors to obtain convictions in cases of deadly force. They also argue that the legal use of force tends to give rogue cops and poorly-trained police officers the leeway to kill or harm people who are not life threatening.
Anthony Rothert, legal director of the Civil Liberties Union of Missouri Foundation, said, The reality is that the police often use excessive force, including sometimes deadly, and are rarely held criminally or civilly liable, and most police departments have no meaningful or external accountability mechanisms.”
The Justice Department says less than eight percent of complaints about the use of excessive force are ever used against police officers by their departments. In 2002, over 26,000 complaints were lodged against police officers using excessive force; only 2,000 cases were upheld.
The National Police Accountability Project encourages police departments to train officers towards de-escalating confrontations by using non-deadly force when possible. The non-governmental organization also pushes for officers to seek out training on how to appraise risky situations and not overact, adding that a person might be acting oddly because the individual might be mentally ill, undergoing medical stress or not speak English.
Do you believe Wayne Isaacs was justified in using deadly force during a road rage incident?
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