A grand jury indicted an unarmed, emotionally disturbed man on assault charges after police opened fire on him near New York City’s Times Square and wounded two bystanders.
Investigators said 35-year-old Glenn Broadnax, of Brooklyn, created a disturbance Sept. 14 by lurching into traffic and lunging toward oncoming cars.
Police arrived as a crowd gathered at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue and tried to corral the 250-pound Broadnax.
When the man reached into his pants pocket, two officers opened fire, missing Broadnax but wounding two women standing nearby.
An officer finally subdued Broadnax with a Taser stun gun, and he was initially arrested on misdemeanor charges of drug possession, menacing and resisting arrest.
But the Manhattan district attorney’s office brought the case before a grand jury and secured a nine-count indictment on felony charges that carry a possible 25-year prison sentence.
The indictment said Broadnax “recklessly engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death.”
Prosecutors said Broadnax created the situation that left innocent bystanders with gunshot wounds, although he was not armed himself.
The shootings once again raised questions about the police use of firearms in crowded areas and drew comparisons to a shooting a year ago, when officers struck nine bystanders in front of the Empire State Building when they killed an armed murder suspect.
The two officers, whose names have not been released, remain on administrative duty while an investigation continues into their actions.
The officers also face an internal police department inquiry.
Broadnax suffers from anxiety and depression and was disoriented and scared when police started shooting, his attorney said.
Attorney Rigodis Appling said Broadnax was reaching for his wallet, not a gun, when police opened fire.
“Mr. Broadnax never imagined his behavior would ever cause the police to shoot at him,” Appling said.
Broadnax told detectives after his arrest that he’d been talking to dead relatives in his head and was trying to throw himself into oncoming traffic to take his own life.
A psychiatrist later found him competent to stand trial, and a judge set bail Wednesday at $100,000.
An attorney for one of the wounded women said the district attorney should pursue charges against the officers, not Broadnax.
“It’s an incredibly unfortunate use of prosecutorial discretion to be prosecuting a man who didn’t even injure my client,” said attorney Mariann Wang. “It’s the police who injured my client.”
[Image via Agence France-Presse]