People v. Boss

261 A.D.2d 1 (1999)

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People v. Boss

New York Supreme Court
261 A.D.2d 1 (1999)

Facts

In 1999 Kenneth Boss and three other police officers (defendants) shot an unarmed Black man named Amadou Diallo 41 times in Bronx County, New York. The officers were indicted for second-degree murder and reckless endangerment. There was a tremendous outcry from the public, prominent individuals, and publications repeatedly telling prospective jurors that the number of shots fired plus Diallo’s status as unarmed definitively demonstrated the defendants’ guilt regardless of any other possible issues. There was an outpouring of prejudicial publicity, which often asserted that racial prejudice was a motivating factor in the officers’ conduct. Boss moved for a change of venue and supported the motion with public-opinion surveys showing that 81 percent of Bronx residents and 67 percent of residents of New York City polled indicated that there was no justification for shooting Diallo 41 times. The state did not present evidence that would call into question the accuracy of Boss’s data. Also, Boss presented evidence that was more compelling than the surveys, regarding mass protests at the courthouse in the Bronx, at police headquarters, and at other locations in which thousands of people participated each day, with more than 1,000 people arrested, including current and former high-ranking public officials.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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