Posted by: vote4claxton | January 4, 2007


Section: New York > Printer-Friendly Version

Mother Criticizes 30-Day Suspension for Son’s Killer

By BRADLEY HOPE, Staff Reporter of the Sun | January 3, 2007

The mother of an unarmed teenager who was killed by police said at a press conference yesterday that the police commissioner “spit in my face” by giving the officer who fired the fatal shot a 30-day suspension instead of firing him.

“We are not setting an example for the new cops that are coming out here,” Phyllis Clayburne said outside police headquarters in Manhattan. “We are letting them know that whatever you do, it’s going to be okay because you won’t be reprimanded for what you do.”

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly last week ordered Officer Richard Neri to be stripped of his weapon permanently and assigned to the property clerk’s division in addition to serving a 30-day suspension without pay. Police declined to comment further on the punishment.

Mr. Neri was patrolling the roof of Louis Armstrong Houses in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn on January 30, 2004, when Timothy Stansbury, 19, opened the door. Startled, Mr. Neri fired a single fatal shot into Stansbury’s chest.

Mr. Kelly immediately called the shooting unjustified, and Mayor Bloomberg attended Stansbury’s funeral, but a Brooklyn grand jury decided a month after the shooting not to indict Mr. Neri on charges of criminally negligent homicide and manslaughter. An internal police department trial determined that he should be punished with a 30-day suspension.

The chairwoman of the department of law and police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Maki Haberfeld, said the police department’s internal discipline was set up to deal with the officer’s break with police policy, not the outcome.

“This is not about the outcome of failing to secure your weapon,” she said. “It is about his behavior.”

City Council Member Charles Barron, a Democrat of Brooklyn, called the commissioner’s decision “outrageous.”

“What is Commissioner Kelly telling us?” he said. “That a black child’s life is worth a 30-day suspension.”

Mr. Barron said the decision diminishes the potential for justice in the upcoming grand jury testimony on the killing of Sean Bell, who also was shot by police.

The council member and Marquez Claxton, a representative of a group of current and former police officers, 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, called on Mr. Bloomberg to remove Mr. Kelly as commissioner.

“A huge segment of this city is not being afforded due process and equal protection,” Mr. Claxton said. “This is a pattern of this current administration.”

Two teenagers, Terrence Fisher and Daniel Howard, were filming a documentary about guns at the time of the Stansbury shooting, prompting them to recast their project, which later became “Bullets in the Hood: A Bed-Stuy Story.” The director of youth programs at Downtown Community Television, Clarivel Ruiz, who supported the project, said yesterday that she believed Mr. Neri should have been given a stronger punishment.

“Should he be fired? Yes, possibly,” she said. “Is that going to help everything? No. If, at least, he does get fired, there might be someone who goes in afterwards and says, ‘That’s not what I should do in these conditions.'”




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