JUDGE OVERTURNS VERDICT EXONERATING POLICE

A federal judge on Thursday overturned a jury's verdict that said police were justified in fatally shooting a Brooklyn man in 1999, and has ordered a new trial.

Gidone Busch was shot 12 times in Borough Park, Brooklyn, on August 30, 1999 after officers claimed he charged at them with a hammer.

Busch's family later sued the city, saying the five police officers involved in the shooting used excessive force against the mentally 
disturbed man. The officers were brought to trial, and a jury cleared them of wrongdoing in November 2003.

In a written decision released Thursday afternoon, District Judge Sterling Johnson granted the Busch family a new trial, saying the officers "exaggerated or overstated versions of the events, especially regarding details of the shooting." The judge says there are, "serious questions" about the truthfulness of the officers' testimony.

The Busch family released a statement today through its attorney saying: "We are gratified by the judge's decision that a new trial should be granted regarding the excessive force shooting claim and by his findings, as we contended, that the jury verdict on that issue was so contrary to the credible evidence that it was a miscarriage of justice." 
 

The city's Corporation Counsel responded in his own statement: "We are extremely disappointed in the judge's decision, which we believe to be wrong both legally and factually. It is for the jury, not the judge, to weigh the credibility of the witnesses. The judge improperly substituted his judgment for that of the jury. The city is weighing all its legal options."

Busch's family sued the city, the Police Department and the five officers involved in the shooting, citing evidence and witness accounts 
that indicate Busch was standing straight when he was fatally shot.

The officers involved say Busch ignored their warnings to drop the hammer. During a three-week civil trial in 2003, lawyers for the city argued the police had no other choice but to shoot him, saying the officers were scared for their lives and feared Busch would severely 
harm them.

Jurors ruled that the officers did not violate Busch's constitutional rights by using excessive force.

Source: NY Times


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