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It’s Just a Shot Away

Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, ambushed and killed two NYPD officers yesterday as they were sitting in their parked patrol car in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. He fired two shots through the passenger side window hitting both of them in the head. Then he ran into a nearby subway station and committed suicide, shooting himself in the head.

Brinsley apparently did not know the officers. The Washington Post reports,

Before he made his way to Brooklyn on Saturday morning, police said, Brinsley shot his girlfriend about 5:45 a.m. in Owings Mills, Md., about 15 miles outside Baltimore. The shooting occurred at a gated apartment complex called Greenwich Place Town Center, adjacent to a parking lot for a movie theater at Owings Mills Mall.

Late Saturday night, Baltimore County police confirmed that Brinsley was the gunman in the earlier shooting that wounded the 29-year-old Owings Mills woman. Police said the victim, whose name has not been released, was shot in the abdomen.

Police said Brinsley fled the scene of the shooting before they arrived. By 1:30 p.m., police said they became aware of Instagram posts by the suspect that included “threats against police officers.” Authorities said they quickly traced the posts and the phone Brinsley was using to a location in Brooklyn.

About 2:10 p.m., Baltimore County police called New York’s 70th Precinct to discuss the threatening Instagram posts and informed officers that Brinsley’s phone was “pinging” at a location in their precinct. At the same time, Baltimore County authorities said they faxed a “wanted” poster to the NYPD with information about Brinsley. Around 2:50 p.m., they sent a teletype with the same information in the flier to NYPD’s “real-time crime center.”

They were about five minutes too late.

Yesterday’s murders by ambush may freak out many cops who, if not already, will become paranoid hyper vigilant drones with automatic trigger responses.

The ambush was a tragic but predictable and inevitable push-back to the epidemic of murders committed by our militarized police who will in turn increasingly react like a besieged occupation army. The only certainty is an escalating death rate for citizens and police.

But for a failed legal system, yesterday’s tragedy in New York may never have occurred. I blame out-of-control cops like Wilson and Pantaleo and the corrupt prosecutors who protected them like Robert McCulloch in St.Louis and Dan Donovan in Staten Island.

NYPD cops are blaming Mayor Bill de Blasio because he dared to express concern about the safety of his biracial son after a grand jury declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo for killing Eric Garner with a choke hold.

They could not possibly be more mistaken.

We have reached a fork in the road. Do we demilitarize our out-of-control police, return to community policing and fix our broken legal system or do we descend into chaos?

I fear we have already made the wrong choice.

If I were a police officer today, I would turn-in my badge and gun and resign.

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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.

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