- - Monday, November 6, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Not even New York City’s cop-hating mayor or New York’s cop-hating governor could resist praising New York Police Department Officer Ryan Nash for shooting Islamic terrorist Sayfullo Saipov, as he emerged from his Home Depot-rented truck, after killing eight innocent victims and injuring 11 more, shouting “Allahu akbar!”

After slamming into a school bus and injuring four people, Mr. Saipov jumped from his truck brandishing what appeared to be two guns and started to run. Officer Nash, an eight-year veteran of city’s elite force, did exactly what he was trained to do: use reasonable force to stop a crime. He aimed at Mr. Saipov’s body mass — the easiest part of his body to hit — and with a single shot dropped him to the ground. Presumably, Officer Nash was not trying to either kill or not kill the man, simply to stop, as fast as he could, what the suspect was doing. If the case were not so egregious, or so high-profile, critics would no doubt say he should have shot the man in the legs (some might even allege he should have shot the gun out of his hand, although Mr. Saipov had what appeared to be two guns, but which were actually a paint ball and a pellet gun).

Mr. Saipov, from Uzbekistan, came to the United States seven years ago under a Diversity Visa Lottery program, which allows people from countries with few immigrants into the country through the use of a lottery, and was enacted several years ago by a bipartisan Congress to further diversify the country. President Trump has been highly critical of the program, believing that immigrants should be let into the country because of merit rather than chance, and after the New York terrorist attack brought infamy to the program, has announced he will seek to end it.

New York NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry Jr., who also stopped a criminal act with his service weapon, has not been so well treated by Mayor Bill de Blasio or New York prosecutors. Sgt. Barry and another officer were called to a Bronx tenement building a year ago to find a mentally deranged black woman threatening neighbors with a large pair of scissors. Sgt. Barry, who happens to be white, talked her into dropping the scissors, whereupon she reached behind her, picked up a baseball bat and raised it above her head to, presumably, smash the sergeant’s head open. Sgt. Barry pulled his pistol — as he had been trained to do — and shot her twice, killing her (Full disclosure: My organization is supporting Sgt. Barry’s defense.)

Mr. de Blasio, Al Sharpton and the liberal New York press made loud and predictable conclusions of Sgt. Barry’s guilt and the innocence of the victim, and praised the Bronx prosecutor for indicting him for second-degree murder — the first time a NYPD officer has been charged with murder since 1999 — even though legal experts opined that if a jury convicted Sgt. Barry, it would be virtually impossible to keep the case from being overturned on appeal. Sgt. Barry now awaits a jury trial, his career as a police officer in tatters, sometime next spring.

Mr. Saipov’s weapons were virtually harmless, but the baseball bat aimed at Sgt. Barry’s head was very real. Officer Nash, of course, did not know that when he confronted Mr. Saipov, and he didn’t know whether the man had a bomb or other weapon in his clothes. For dropping Mr. Saipov to the ground he did exactly the right thing. Sgt. Barry, on the other hand, knew exactly what damage a baseball bat would do to his head, and he did exactly the right thing as well. In his case, the right thing just was not the politically correct thing to do. That is not to say that Officer Nash should not have feared for his life before shooting the terrorist and that he is not a hero — he is, in every sense of the word. But so, too, is Sgt. Barry — just not in the eyes of New York’s liberal politicians.

Police have long-established rules for use of force, anchored in the 1989 Supreme Court case Graham v. Connor, which carefully balanced the interests of the police and the public against the rights of those arrested or against whom force might be threatened or used. The rules are based on reasonableness, acknowledging that officers must often make split-second judgments about how much force to use.

Every member of the New York Police Department who carries a weapon knows those rules and, for the most part, abides by them. Sometimes, however, as in the case of Hugh Barry Jr., the politicians and prosecutors just don’t know the rules as well as the cops.

• Alfred S. Regnery is chairman of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund. He served in the Reagan Justice Department.


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