Black Blood Is Cheap

The Anti-Police-Brutality Movement Has Been Shot Down in the Highest-Profile Cases

"It's an open window," she said, referring to the unmarked car in which Conway pursued her son. "He has to raise his hand. If the gun accidentally went off, the bullet had to hit something, the steering wheel, his lap, his elbow, something," added Sharon, a former soldier and computer technician who was training to be a police officer when Motorola lured her away. "You pull a gun, [aim] it through a window, and you tell me that you did not intend to shoot?" She described Johnson as "rather stunned" by her argument.

"It doesn't make sense going back and forth about this," Johnson said.

"So in your opinion, this is the best you can do?" she asked.

"Yes," Johnson replied.

Sharon Johnson, Rubenstein, and Reverend Herbert Daughtry, who had joined them as an adviser, went to a nearby room where they consulted before facing a throng of reporters. "I was in shock," Sharon says. "I think that he is weak. I think that the people in the Bronx need to know that you cannot take a case to this man and expect him to be fair about it." At the news conference, she again appealed to the prosecutor to rely on his common sense. "How can a cop pull a gun with one hand, aim it at a person, hold on to that person while driving a car, drive, and pull the trigger?" she pleaded. "Mr. Johnson, I need an explanation. My son needs an explanation. The city needs an explanation."


Additional reporting by Amanda Ward


Bronx D.A. Responds

"District Attorney Robert Johnson has never hesitated prosecuting anyone where there is evidence that a crime has been committed. Since 1995, charges alleging the use of excessive force while on duty have been filed against 20 police officers. Allegations of wrongdoing not involving excessive force have resulted in charges being filed against eight other police officers.

"It is inappropriate for a district attorney to seek to influence a grand jury. The role of the D.A. is to serve as legal adviser to the grand jury and to instruct the panel on the law and the available evidence. [In the case of Dante Johnson], we submitted for the grand jury's consideration a felony charge of assault in the second degree, reckless assault. The panel, however, filed a lesser charge of assault in the third degree. We did not charge an intentional shooting because the forensic evidence did not bear that out." Steve Reed, spokesman

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