Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jun 2007
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2007 The New York Times Company
Author: Timothy Williams
Bookmark: (Policing - United States)


The mother of an unarmed man killed by an undercover police officer
seven years ago called on the Bronx district attorney's office
yesterday to reopen a criminal investigation after a jury awarded her
$10.45 million for the wrongful death of her son.

The unarmed man, Malcolm Ferguson, 23, was shot on March 1, 2000,
during a struggle with Louis Rivera, the plainclothes officer, who was
investigating narcotics sales in the Soundview section of the Bronx.

The shooting, which prompted large protests in the neighborhood,
occurred two blocks from the apartment building vestibule where Amadou
Diallo was shot at 41 times by undercover police officers in 1999.

After an investigation, the Bronx district attorney, Robert T.
Johnson, declined to file criminal charges against Officer Rivera.
Officer Rivera said he had accidentally fired a gunshot that struck
Mr. Ferguson in the head as they wrestled in a stairwell. He remains
on active duty.

On Wednesday, a Civil Court jury in the Bronx found Officer Rivera
responsible for Mr. Ferguson's death and awarded Mr. Ferguson's mother
the $10.45 million, including $7 million in punitive damages and $3
million for pain and suffering.

"I now go back to District Attorney Robert Johnson and ask him to
reopen the case," Juanita Young, Mr. Ferguson's mother, said yesterday.

"I've paid a heavy price the past seven years for trying to get
justice for my son."

Steven Reed, a spokesman for the Bronx district attorney's office,
said there were no plans to re-examine the shooting.

"This incident was the subject of a thorough investigation, the
details of which were laid out and summarized in a report that was
issued for public inspection," Mr. Reed said in a statement. "Civil
negligence and criminal liability are different. Each is required to
meet a different burden of proof. A determination of civil liability
is based upon a 'preponderance of the evidence' whereas criminal
liability is determined by 'proof beyond a reasonable doubt.' "

The police found six packets of heroin in Mr. Ferguson's clothes. He
was on parole at the time for narcotics sales and had been arrested
several times on drug dealing charges.

Erious Johnson, an assistant corporation counsel, said the city would
appeal the civil verdict.

"As the jury recognized, this was an accidental shooting," Mr. Johnson
said in a statement. "We are disappointed with the verdict and do not
believe it will withstand an appeal." 
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