By Keegan Hamilton
By Albert Samaha
By Village Voice staff
By Tessa Stuart
By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
In the midst of an uproar over fatal confrontations involving police and blacks, a white Brooklyn patrolman claimed that he shot a black drug suspect in the head after the man tried to grab a sergeant's gun during a struggle, but the cop's story was overwhelmingly rejected by a Brooklyn grand jury, the Voice has learned.
The shooting was not made public by the NYPD.
It is also becoming more apparent that black suspects who survive to claim that they were wrongfully arrested, beaten, or shot while in police custody but later are acquitted receive no empathy from Police Commissioner Howard Safir or Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes. Neither seems to care about prosecuting the alleged victimizers.
Hynes's office originally charged Allen McKnight, a popular 35-year-old East New York amateur boxer who survived the April 22 shooting, with first-degree attempted murder; aggravated assault upon a police officer; two counts of grand larceny; two counts of robbery; resisting arrest; two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance; unlawful possession of marijuana; and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
McKnight would have faced life in prison if convicted of attempting to kill Sergeant Charles Tyrie.
Without hearing McKnight's version of what happened, a grand jury dismissed complaining officer Matthew Hutchinson's tale, throwing out 12 of the 13 charges. The boxer, who told the Voice that the two cops stopped and frisked him for no reason, and that one of them shot him in the head "execution-style" while his hands were cuffed behind his back, is scheduled to return to Criminal Court in Brooklyn on July 28 for a hearing on the marijuana possession charge.
According to a complaint filed by Detective John Grosse of the 75th Precinct, Officer Hutchinson claimed that about 7:15 a.m. on April 22, while on patrol on Barby Street in the East New York section of Brooklyn, he and Sergeant Tyrie observed McKnight "in possession of a quantity of marijuana." Tyrie and Hutchinson, who "has had professional training as a police officer in the identification of marijuana," approached McKnight in uniform, identifying themselves as officers.
As they attempted to arrest McKnight, they said, the suspect "refused to be handcuffed, flailed his arms and started walking backwards whereby a struggle ensued" in front of 605 Barby Street. As the men tussled on the ground, Hutchinson "felt something [tug at] his holster . . . and observed that his gun was missing." Hutchinson alleged that McKnight had the gun, that his "finger was on the trigger," and that the gun "brushed up against Sergeant . . . Tyrie's stomach."
The cops alleged that McKnight, then firmly in possession of the weapon, threatened to "shoot them" and "pointed the loaded gun at Sergeant Tyrie's chest." The complaint states that Hutchinson, bruised from the struggle, "fear[ed] imminent physical injury" but it does not explain how McKnight was shot.
Hutchinson told Detective Grose that he also "recovered a black bag" with crack cocaine. (It is unclear whether Hutchinson discovered the drug before or after McKnight was shot.) Another officer, Dino Anselmo, reported that he found heroin on McKnight. McKnight was not indicted for possession of either smack or crack.
Seven weeks after the shooting, Allen McKnight, who is known in his East New York neighborhood as "Black the Boxer," or "Black the Barber," struggles with the pain inflicted by a cop's bullet, which, he maintains, was fired at point-blank range into his right temple.
McKnight remembers that shortly after 7 a.m. he left his fiancee's apartment on Stanley Avenue on his way to Queens. Although the three-time Golden Globe contestant was in training for an upcoming bout on August 19, McKnight feared walking through "Ghetnam," street code for the East New York area, which has been plagued by a rash of robberies and gang wars.
"I live in a neighborhood where people dress as police officers and do stick-ups," he says.
As he walked along Schenck Avenue, a blue-and-white squad car pulled up and one of two cops inside shouted, "Hey, you, come here."
"You, what?" McKnight recalls responding to the officer he now identifies as Hutchinson. "What you mean come here?"
He says Hutchinson stormed out of the car, accosted him, and began to dig into his pockets.
"What you doing all in my pockets?" McKnight protested.
"Shut up!" he says Hutchinson demanded.
"What you mean 'Shut up'?" McKnight retorted, pushing Hutchinson's hand away.
Hutchinson, according to McKnight, grabbed his jacket and yelled, "Hey, Sarge, look at this guy; he's trying to take my gun!"
Sergeant Tyrie allegedly got out of the car, wrestled McKnight to the ground, and handcuffed him. "He just handcuffed me and pulled the gun out," he recalls. McKnight adds that in an attempt to talk to Tyrie he turned his head and found himself staring up at the muzzle of the sergeant's hair-trigger 9mm Glock. "As I turned the side of my face . . . and looked right at him, I saw the gun right there," he says." He handcuffed me, put me on the floor, and shot me in my head."
After the bullet ripped into McKnight's temple, Tyrie allegedly sat on the suspect. "I was like, 'I can't breathe! I can't breathe!' And he said, 'This is procedure! Shut up! Shut up! This is procedure!' " The bullet exited through McKnight's mouth.