An unarmed New York City man who was shot at by police has now been slapped with charges of assault, the theory being that he was responsible for two bystanders being hit by the bullets, the New York Times reports.
Brooklyn resident Glenn Broadnax, 35, who was emotionally disturbed, caused a commotion downtown near Times Square in September when he started throwing himself into the path of oncoming cars.
Officers arrived at the scene and tried to subdue Broadnax, but when the 250-pound man reached into his pocket, the officers thought he was pulling a gun and opened fire, missing their target but hitting two women who were nearby.
At first, the Times reports, Broadnax was arrested for menacing, drug possession and resisting arrest, all misdemeanor charges. However, a grand jury, at the urging of the district attorney, decided to charge the man with assault, a felony that carries up to 25 years in prison, an indictment unsealed on Wednesday showed.
"The defendant is the one that created the situation that injured innocent bystanders," said Assistant District Attorney Shannon Lucey.
The officers who pulled the trigger have not been identified but have been placed on administrative duty. Their actions are still under investigation, and they face an internal inquiry from the department.
"Mr. Broadnax never imagined his behavior would ever cause the police to shoot at him," Broadnax’s lawyer, Rigodis Appling, said, according to the Times. She claims that her client suffered from anxiety and depression. When he was reaching into his pocket, he was going for his wallet, not a gun.
When Broadnax was arrested, he told a detective that "he was talking to dead relatives in his head and that he tried throwing himself in front of cars to kill himself," court documents show.
Still, he was found competent enough by a psychiatrist to stand trial.
However, it seems that Broadnax has a few people on his side. The attorney for one of the women who was injured expressed her disappointment in how the case was being handled, the Times reports. "It's an incredibly unfortunate use of prosecutorial discretion to be prosecuting a man who didn’t even injure my client," Mariann Wang, who represents Sahar Khoshakhlagh, said. "It's the police who injured my client."
Read more at the New York Times.