2012-08-23 "NYPD disciplines 17 cops who posted racist Facebook comments about West Indian Day Parade; About 150 comments were posted, referring to parade revelers as savages and animals" by Joe Kemp from NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Photograph by Mario Tama showing Revelers dance next to police officers during the West Indian Day Parade in 2011.
NYPD brass has disciplined 17 cops who posted racist or offensive comments on a Facebook page devoted to last year’s West Indian Day Parade, officials said Thursday.
News of the disciplinary action comes almost one year after the Labor Day weekend celebration.
About 150 comments were posted on the page, referring to parade revelers as “savages” and “animals.”
One person, believed to be a cop, went so far as to write: “I say have the parade one more year and when they all gather drop a bomb and wipe them all out.”
“Kill them all,” another person wrote.
The remarks taken from the profile titled “No More West Indian Day Detail,” were compiled by a team of lawyers representing a man who was caught with a gun at the parade.
Investigators found that about 20 of the people who posted comments matched the names of NYPD police officers.
Paul Browne, top spokesman for the NYPD, said four cops still face departmental trials on misconduct charges.
Six cops were slapped with command disciplines and seven officers received lower levels of punishment, which included “letters of instruction,” Browne said.
“These comments were deeply offensive, specifically to the elected officials who every year work with the NYPD to address safety concerns related to the West Indian Day Parade,” said Council Member Letitia James (D-Brooklyn).
“I commend the NYPD for addressing this unacceptable behavior,” she added.
The annual parade, one of the city’s largest events, has been linked to several spates of violence. Last year, three shootings were tied to the parade and the celebratory night before, known as J’ouvert.
2012-08-24 "Some 'hit by police bullets' in Empire State Building shooting; Police, already on the scene, were actually anti-terrorism units" by Lori Price from "www.legitgov.org"
Some struck in NYC's Empire State Building shooting were 'wounded or grazed' [*or killed*] by NYPD bullets. Nine bystanders were injured by 'stray' (read: police) fire. There are conflicting reports on whether Jeffrey Johnson, 53, actually shot at police before the counter-terrorism police officers fired at him. The gunman is among two dead in NYC shootings. [So the purpose of this particular op was to get people acclimated to the notion that the police -- and/or anti-terrorism units, DHS, or other federal agencies -- can open fire on crowds and we're supposed to accept such an action as 'necessary.' --LRP]
2012-08-24 "NYPD: No evidence yet gunman fired at officers" by TOM HAYS from "The Associated Press"[http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/nypd-no-evidence-yet-1505431.html]:
EW YORK — Investigators say the evidence collected so far suggests that a laid off clothing designer who shot a former colleague near the Empire State Building didn't fire at police.
The gunman was shot by police, and nine bystanders were wounded.
One witness tells police that Jeffrey Johnson fired at officers, but authorities say ballistics evidence so far doesn't support that.
They say Johnson's .45-caliber weapon held seven rounds. He fired five times at Steven Ercolino, killing him. One round was still in the gun, and one was ejected when officers secured it.
The nine bystanders hit by gunfire when police took down Johnson are expected to survive. They suffered graze wounds or other minor injuries.
2012-08-24 "Gunman Dies After Killing at Empire State Building" by JAMES BARRON from "New York Times"
Reporting was contributed by Al Baker, Penn Bullock, Joseph Goldstein, Sarah Maslin Nir, Sharon Otterman, Wendy Ruderman, Alex Vadukul and Vivian Yee.
The sidewalks in Midtown Manhattan were swarming with the morning crush of office workers, and crowds of tourists were already pushing their way into one of the world’s most famous buildings. Around the corner, in the shadow of the Empire State Building, stood a 58-year-old man wearing a suit and carrying a black canvas bag. Inside the bag, the police said, was a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun.
The man, Jeffrey T. Johnson, lurked behind a van parked outside the drab office building that houses the apparel importer that had laid him off almost two years ago. When Mr. Johnson spotted Steven Ercolino, a sales executive at the company who was on his way to work, he made his move.
Mr. Johnson, an office rival of Mr. Ercolino’s who the police said held Mr. Ercolino responsible for the loss of his job, pulled out the gun, fired at Mr. Ercolino five times, put the gun away and calmly walked off, trying to blend into the crowd as Mr. Ercolino lay bleeding on the sidewalk.
Mr. Johnson turned the corner onto Fifth Avenue. A few feet ahead were the shiny front doors of the Empire State Building — and two police officers who had been alerted to the shooting by a construction worker.
From about eight feet away, the officers confronted Mr. Johnson and when he pulled out his gun, they opened fire, shooting a total of 16 rounds. Mr. Johnson was killed and nine bystanders were wounded, perhaps all by police bullets.
The gunfire echoed outside one of New York’s must-see tourist destinations, where visitors were already riding the elevators to the observation decks nearly a quarter-mile up. Suddenly, on the streets below, there was pandemonium: Frightened passers-by were dashing into nearby stores and diving behind racks of merchandise. Construction workers were running for cover. Passengers on buses rumbling down Fifth Avenue were yelling, “Get down, get down.”
“It was like nothing I’d ever heard in my life,” said Joseph Cohen, 27, who was buying coffee in a fast-food restaurant across Fifth Avenue from the Empire State Building. He said he assumed “it was balloons popping or something” until he saw the commotion on Fifth Avenue — and Mr. Johnson’s body lying on the sidewalk.
Of those hit or grazed by bullets, eight were New Yorkers, their ages ranging from 21 to 56. The ninth was a 35-year-old woman from Chapel Hill, N.C. They were taken to NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital and Bellevue Hospital Center, where officials said their wounds were not life-threatening. Six of the nine had been treated and released by Friday night, the police said.
The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said one witness had told investigators that Mr. Johnson had fired at the two officers, “but we don’t have ballistics to support that.” Mr. Browne said “it’s possible” that the officers had shot him before he could return fire.
One officer fired seven times, the other nine times, Mr. Browne said.
Mr. Johnson, 58, and Mr. Ercolino, 41, had a long history of antagonism. They had scuffled in an elevator in April 2011, after Mr. Johnson lost his job at the company. They took their grievance to the Midtown South police station, arriving within 15 minutes of each other, Mr. Browne said. He said that Mr. Johnson claimed Mr. Ercolino had threatened him and that Mr. Ercolino claimed Mr. Johnson had threatened him.
Mr. Ercolino was shot at 9:03 a.m. and Mr. Johnson “minutes later,” Mr. Browne said.
Witnesses said that as Mr. Johnson stepped out from behind a van parked in front of the building where Hazan Imports has its office, at 10 West 33rd Street, he gave no indication of what was about to unfold.
One witness, Darrin Deleuil, said he saw Mr. Ercolino fall to the ground and rushed over to help him up, not realizing he had been shot. “A guy with a briefcase just came and just stood right over him and just kept shooting him — boom, boom, boom,” Mr. Deleuil said.
“He looked right at me,” he said, but never turned the gun on him. “He wanted every bullet for that guy.”
And then the gunman crossed the street and walked toward Fifth Avenue as construction workers standing on scaffolding outside the Empire State Building yelled a warning: “Guy in the gray suit, guy in the gray suit.”
“We see a guy just walking nonchalantly,” said another construction worker on the scaffolding, Guillermo Tarzlaff, an electrical worker.
Mr. Browne said that once Mr. Johnson turned onto Fifth Avenue, he stayed close to the curb, threading his way around large flower pots. “You wouldn’t make him as somebody who had just killed somebody,” Mr. Browne said. As he approached the two officers in front of the Empire State Building, Mr. Johnson took out his gun “and tried to shoot the cops and kill the cops,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg told reporters at the scene.
The officers’ bullets struck Mr. Johnson at least seven times.
One security surveillance video clearly shows the encounter.
“It’s great video — you see him drawing on the cops, you see the whole thing,” a law enforcement official said. “The cops had no choice.”
Mr. Browne said neither officer had been involved in a shooting before.
The police blocked off streets around the Empire State Building for hours, disrupting traffic in one of Manhattan’s busiest areas, but reopened them by late afternoon.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Mr. Johnson’s gun was a Spanish-made semiautomatic pistol. Law enforcement officials said Mr. Johnson bought it in 1991 in Sarasota, Fla., where he attended art school.
Mr. Kelly said Mr. Johnson, who appeared to have no criminal record, had worked at Hazan Imports for six years. “During a downsizing at the company,” Mr. Kelly said, “Johnson was laid off.”
Hazan Imports was founded about 40 years ago by two brothers, Isaac and Ralph Hazan. Isaac Hazan died in 2009. By late 2010 or early 2011, with revenue falling, the company did some cost-cutting and laid off Mr. Johnson.
One Hazan Imports employee, who insisted on anonymity for fear of upsetting his colleagues and the victims, said Mr. Johnson appeared to take his layoff in stride. But on Friday morning, he turned to violence.
Hours later one of the people who was wounded — Robert Asika, 23, a ticket seller for Gray Line tours — emerged from Bellevue Hospital Center with his right arm in a sling. “The bullet came in and went out,” he said. “I’m very lucky.”
Mr. Asika said he had been shot by a police officer. Asked how he felt about that, he said, “I guess, you know, stuff happens.”