A Seven-Year Ricochet

With an Eye Lost, a Police Shooting Victim Waits for Justice

How does change come about? Silverio's shooting is a case in point, and there are several others. Michael Stewart's death in 1983 helped bring attention to the dangers of hog-tying a person in custody. In 1984 Eleanor Bumpurs, who had a history of mental illness, was killed in her home while wielding a knife in fear when police came to evict her. According to Barron, her death did result in new guidelines for handling cases involving mental health issues. After several incidents, use of the choke hold was banned in 1985 except in extreme cases, but the 1994 death of Anthony Baez from injuries resulting from a choke hold and other force was a reminder that vigilance must follow change: Baez, 29, died from choke hold injuries, although police said he'd had an asthma attack. And Amadou Diallo's 1999 death and the resulting protests shined a light on the activities of the NYPD Street Crime Unit.

Juberky Silverio Stevens, wounded February 16, 1997, by a ricocheting police bullet
photo: Sylvia Plachy
Juberky Silverio Stevens, wounded February 16, 1997, by a ricocheting police bullet

No judgment against the city can give Juberky Silverio back her eyesight in both eyes. With luck, perhaps her face—and her self-esteem—will be further restored. Her case may be decided without any further look at police procedures, the bullets currently used by the NYPD, or the training of officers who will be on our streets. But what should she tell her son about going out to a friend's birthday party?

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