Thanks to some precise reporting by the Daily News, we here at the paper can’t say for certain where along Arthur Ave. the following story took place, but over the weekend the NYPD apparently shot a crazed man on a fire escape that was brandishing broken glass and a mop handle.
The bullet grazed ex-con Melvin Johnson, 50, in the arm. He was listed in stable condition Sunday night at Jacobi Medical Center and faces burglary and assault charges, cops said.
The odd drama began around 9:30 a.m. [Sunday] when neighbors complained to 911 that Johnson was breaking glass and spraying graffiti on their Fordham apartment building on Arthur Ave.
Cops found Johnson inside his third-floor apartment, where he was trying to escape by climbing onto the fire escape. When cops went to grab him, Johnson wielded the mop handle and pelted them with pieces of glass, prompting one officer to fire his gun, said a source.
Courtesy of the Daily News.
Sadly enough, this isn’t the first incident the paper has reported on involving both the NYPD and crazy men on fire escapes (See: Tazed And Confused). In September, after being tazered by police in Brooklyn while on a fire escape, an apparently crazy man fell to his death. In short, it probably wasn’t the best decision by the boys in blue at the time.
And before we launch into an anti-taser rant, the idea of using non-lethal force to apprehend a suspect is inherently a good one, especially those who are pretty obviously operating without a full deck of cards. Less bullets fired should equal less people getting killed. Now granted tazing someone perched on a ledge might not be the best place to employ such a strategy, it’s certainly not a place to take out your gun and shoot.
I’m sure it’s a difficult position to be in as a cop any time you face off with a mop and glass wielding crazy trying to escape out his window. Definitely a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation (I’m sure the NYPD would have got crucified, again, if they went for the tazer and another guy fell to his death). But in retrospect, especially when considering all the potentially bad consequences that can stem from any time a gun is shot in public, maybe going the non-lethal route would have been the better decision. One stray bullet and instead of a complete non-story we’re dealing with tragedy just a few blocks away.