BY LEO SCHWARTZ
NEW YORK-A July 27 grand jury verdict has cleared detective Anthony Vasquez in the March 16, 2000, shooting death of Patrick Dorismond, a Haitian immigrant and security guard. Dorismond was killed during a ‘buy and bust’ incident as part of the New York Police Department’s racist “Operation Condor.”
Dorismond died shortly after being approached by Vasquez and two other undercover cops offering to sell Dorismond crack. Dorismond, unarmed and carrying no drugs, refused the drug offer but was nevertheless killed moments later by a bullet from Vasquez’s gun.
Said the New York based Haitian Coalition for Justice (HJC), “This is a slap in the face of the Haitian community and all New York’s communities of color, whose youth is being gunned down by New York City cops with impunity. This is the third time this year alone that the authorities have conspired to exonerate the cops for murder, and we refuse to accept another miscarriage of justice.”
The HJC has organized numerous actions against police brutality-including picket lines, town meetings, and an April 20 march of some 10,000 (See May, 2000, Socialist Action).
Dorismond’s mother, Marie Dorismond, in tears at a press conference the day of the ruling, cried out, “This is abuse. This is discrimination. The DA is taking me for stupid. They took my son’s life in vain.” In May the Dorismond family, represented by attorney Johnnie Cochran, filed notice they were suing the city for $100 million.
In a blatant attempt to bolster the police version of Dorismond’s death, New York City’s pro-cop mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, revealed to the media Dorismond’s police record going back to when he was just 13. Giuliani’s action, quickly challenged in court, revealed that the Haitian immigrant had only the most minor brushes with police as a youth. Dorismond had never been convicted of anything.
The Dorismond family and supporters lashed out at the mayor’s attempt to publicly smear Dorismond and accused him of killing Dorismond “a second time.” But adding insult to injury, the mayor personally consoled the families of the police involved in the case and never bothered to contact the victim’s family.
Many saw the sharp criticism the racist mayor received in the Dorismond case as one of the main reasons he withdrew from his senatorial bid.
The Dorismond verdict comes on the heels of a not guilty ruling in March for the four New York cops who riddled with bullets an unarmed African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, in February 1999. That trial was moved upstate to Albany, N.Y., despite protests. In June, the cop who shot African American Malcolm Ferguson in March was exonerated by Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson.
In related news, the very same day the grand jury announced its Dorismond decision, Public Advocate Mark Green announced the results of a three-year review of the internal NYPD disciplinary system. The study found that out of 664 cops cited for misconduct by the Civilian Complaint Review Board only six had been dismissed from the force. The report further revealed that 206 of those cops were never charged with wrongdoing by the NYPD, and 340 were given only “slap-on-the-wrist penalties” such as verbal reprimands or the loss of a few vacation days.
The city and the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s office have been negotiating the issue of federal oversight of the NYPD after a federal review last year found there is a pattern of brutality within the NYPD and that punishment is lacking.