UNITED STATES NEWS

Police defend decision not to disclose accidental gunshot during Columbia protest response

May 3, 2024, 10:53 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City police officials on Friday defended their decision to initially keep quiet about a potentially dangerous accident that happened as officers cleared pro-Palestinian protesters from Columbia University this week when a sergeant accidentally fired his gun into a dark office.

The bullet, discharged as the officer transferred his gun to his left hand while trying to get into the locked room, crashed through a glass panel in a door and landed harmlessly on the floor. The office was vacant, so nobody was hit, police officials said at a news conference Friday.

Neither the city’s mayor, Eric Adams, nor any other official mentioned the accidental gunshot in news conferences or media interviews held since police cleared protesters from Columbia’s Hamilton Hall on Tuesday.

The department’s chief spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Tarik Sheppard, said Friday that he didn’t think it was particularly newsworthy because officers accidentally fire their guns about eight times a year and it rarely gets much attention.

“My goal here was not to just try and make a story,” Sheppard said. “I knew it would come up eventually because it always does. So there was no rush for us to talk about this.”

Asked whether the department would release body camera footage of the incident, Sheppard said no. The department has selectively released some body camera footage and video taken by department officials during the operation to clear protesters from the Columbia building, but requests for unedited footage have been refused.

The accidental discharge remained unknown to the public until it was reported by the news site The City on Thursday. The Manhattan district attorney’s office is investigating the incident, a spokesperson said.

The sergeant, who was not identified, was carrying a gun with flashlight attached as he and other officers searched Hamilton Hall for anyone who might be hiding, Assistant Chief Carlos Valdez, head of the NYPD emergency service unit, said at Friday’s news conference.

“During the course of this operation, while clearing an unoccupied vacant area of the building on the first floor, one ESU member, a sergeant, did unintentionally discharge one round from his firearm,” Valdez said.

Valdez said the accidental discharge occurred after police broke the glass panel of a locked office door in order to get inside the office and make sure no one was inside. The gun went off as the sergeant switched it from his right hand to his left hand in order to reach in through the broken window and unlock the door with his right hand, Valdez said.

The bullet landed on the floor of the office and struck no one, he said.

The following day, Adams, a Democrat and former police officer, praised the operation to clear Hamilton Hall, a site of protests and occupations since 1968.

“Just a tremendous job done by the men and women of the NYPD,” the mayor said at a briefing on Wednesday. “Such restraint, such precision.”

No mention was made of the unintentional gunshot.

Police in New York City do not generally inform the public about accidental gunshots unless a person is struck by gunfire.

Asked Friday why police had not informed the public about the Hamilton Hall incident, Sheppard said, “I didn’t make the decision that we wanted to address the accidental discharge at that time because we normally don’t address them.”

United States News

Associated Press

Three little piggies at a yoga class = maximum happiness

SPENCER, Mass. (AP) — Three little piggies went to a yoga class. Their human companions had a blast. Wilbur, Charlotte and Bluey fit right into a growing trend of yoga with animals, adding some fun to the usual physical and mental wellness exercises at a class in central Massachusetts. Darting and strolling among the yoginis […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Remember last year’s Memorial Day travel jams? Chances are they will be much worse this year

You didn’t think summer travel would be easy, did you? Highways and airports are likely to be jammed the next few days as Americans head out for Memorial Day weekend getaways and then return home. AAA predicts this will be the busiest start-of-summer weekend in nearly 20 years, with 43.8 million people expected to travel […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

5 dead and nearly 3 dozen hurt in tornadoes that tore through Iowa, officials say

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — A deadly tornado that wreaked havoc in the small city of Greenfield, Iowa, left four people dead and nearly three dozen injured, officials said, while a fifth person was killed elsewhere. The twister that tore through the city on Tuesday was rated at least an EF-3 by the National Weather Service […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Thousands of journalists have fled homelands due to repression, threats and conflict, UN expert says

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Thousands of journalists have fled their home countries in recent years to escape political repression, save their lives and escape conflict – but in exile they are often vulnerable to physical, digital and legal threats, a U.N. investigator said Wednesday. Irene Khan said in a report to the U.N. General Assembly […]

4 hours ago

Javier Cazares, center, stands with families of the victims in the Uvalde elementary school shootin...

Associated Press

Families of Uvalde school shooting victims file $500 million federal lawsuit against Texas state police

The families of the victims in the Uvalde school shooting in Texas filed a $500 million federal lawsuit against 92 state police officers.

6 hours ago

A man smokes marijuana in lower Manhattan outside the first legal dispensary for recreational marij...

Associated Press

There are now more daily marijuana users in the US than daily alcohol users, according to new research

New research based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows there are more marijuana users in the US than alcohol users.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

Police defend decision not to disclose accidental gunshot during Columbia protest response