As the protests following the Sean Bell verdicts continue throughout the city, one Brooklyn man is more concerned with the resolution of charges related to another police shooting: his own.
Robert Ramirez, 29, faces up to seven years in prison on Tuesday morning in Brooklyn Supreme court. He was convicted on April 15th of one count of second-degree assault.
It all started with a summer BBQ. On July 24th, 2006, two police officers were attempting to deal with some amplified music without a permit at an informal gathering in a courtyard at the Glenwood Houses in East Flatbush. According to police documents, Robert’s stepfather Jose Morales approached the officers “muttering obscenities, acting belligerent, and…intoxicated.”
But a according his stepson, his lawyer and Jose Morales himself, his English isn’t exactly great, he trembles as a result of a surgery some years back, and his knees are wobbly so he lurches as he walks.
What happened next is open to debate.
The police claimed they were shoved, though civilian witnesses contradict that claim. The officers cuffed Morales. Several witnesses reported them beating him with their metal batons. Robert was not far way, and when he got a cell phone call alerting him to what was happening he rushed to the scene, picked up a child’s Razor scooter, and struck one of the officers.
“I hit the officer once to get him to stop hitting him (Morales). I hit him once, somebody grabbed me, I dropped the scooter and the cop turned around and just shot me” Ramirez recalled.
He was shot in the chest at very close range. His story nearly ended right there. He lost 8 pints of blood (the body contains just under 10), lost a lung, and carries the bullet, lodged to close to his spine to be removed safely.
Officer Jason Jeremiah, who fired the near fatal shot, was not interviewed by investigators after the shooting “in co-operation with the Brooklyn D.A.’s office” according to police documents. He remains on duty and Commissioner Kelly himself has publicly called this shooting “justified.” However, Ramirez’s attorney David Epstein revealed that this was the second time in his scant 14-month career that officer Jeremiah fired his weapon. “He shot at a dog, a pit bull,” Epstein said. “He claimed that the dog was a threat to him. He maced the dog first and the dog kept coming so he shot at it.”
Ramirez and Morales were charged with various resisting arrest and assault on an officer offenses. Morales was convicted of one misdemeanor resisting arrest charge, punishable by up to a year in jail. Ramirez was convicted of second degree assault. Justice Deborah Dowling will determine their fate Tuesday morning.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 5, 2008