When Juries Okay Crimes Against Cops

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:21

    The other cops returned fire, but the shooter escaped. Galvin was rushed to Lincoln Hospital. His injuries were critical, but he'd survive. Meanwhile, the apartment's occupant, and the owner of the weapons, was arrested. Khabir Ahmad, a 37-year-old transit worker, was nabbed on weapons charges, but was never charged with the shooting. He was later convicted on federal firearms charges. Eight days after Galvin was shot, police officials announced the shooter's identity and anted up a $21,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Two weeks later, Amir Tawfiyq Adbullah Aziz?26 and formerly known as Tremayne Armstrong?surrendered to the authorities and was charged with Galvin's shooting. This past October, Aziz was tried for the shooting. He was represented by Ron Kuby and Dan Perez.

    "We felt like we had a good case," Perez told me the other day. "We gave the jury two defenses. The first was on identification. A police officer that was at the scene said that the shooter was a very large black man, so large he could see folds of fat on his neck when he ran away. Mr. Aziz was all of 140 pounds when he was arrested. Also, there were inconsistencies in the testimony of another witness who placed Aziz at the scene."

    Perez continues: "The second defense we used was that when the shooter entered the apartment, he had no idea it was cops that were in his apartment. They were all undercover, and had no police markings on their clothes. They could have been burglars. During the search, some of the cops had [gone] to the daycare center where the owner of the apartment's...daughter attended. Ahmad wasn't around, and the cops told the workers at the center that they were looking for him because his apartment had been robbed. The shooter may have thought that the apartment was being robbed. Therefore it would be justified to shoot at an unidentified man in your apartment who is holding a gun."

    Still, the D.A. and the cops thought they had an open-and-shut case against Aziz. Galvin didn't see the shooter, but a resident of the building put Aziz at the scene, as did a telephone worker. Also, one of Aziz's friends testified that Aziz had confessed to him that he had shot Galvin.

    But Kuby knew he was preaching to the choir when he defended Aziz. Bronx juries are notorious for letting defendants charged with crimes against cops walk. It's become an old courtroom joke: "Yeah, it was a real Bronx jury." After two and half days of deliberations, the jury found Aziz not guilty.

    Kuby thought that the verdict was fair, but he didn't celebrate. He had enough class to wish Galvin well, and to let him know it was a terrible thing that had happened to him. Anyway, Aziz will keep Kuby busy for a while longer, since he's facing a murder rap from a 1991 case. It will go to trial soon. Galvin, who's still got bullet fragments in his jaw, will take his disability pension and go home to his three kids.

    The problem with this case is not so much the verdict, but how the verdict was reached. One juror told a Times reporter that some of his peers had expressed antipolice sentiments during deliberations, and that one had claimed that Galvin had "got what he deserved." What we're faced with here, then, might be the glorious specter of jury nullification.

    Not that anyone's been especially outraged over this. Michael Meyers of the Post was the only columnist to take issue with the juror's comment. "Those," he wrote, "who are telling or hinting to black jurors to wink at the crimes of black malefactors caught in the 'white man's system, where the criminals are just us' are courting disaster, as well as engaging in sheer demagoguery. This new vanguard of black bigotry is no more acceptable than the old-guard white racism of the South."

    I knew Timothy Galvin growing up. He lived in a Bronx basement apartment, and had a brood of brothers and sisters. Timmy Galvin was a cool older guy to me. A strong kid, athletic, but with a big man's sweet disposition. He was the type of kid who was always keeping the peace among the rest of us. He joined the NYPD in 1979; one of his sisters and two of his brothers became cops as well. I lost contact with Galvin in high school, and have no idea when he left the Bronx. But when I saw his picture on the cover of the News the day after the shooting, I said a prayer that he'd be all right. He's an easy guy to remember, an even easier guy to like.

    He's a credit to his Bronx roots. But the way the Bronx, land of the Bronx jury, operates now, maybe it's the Bronx that no longer deserves Timothy Galvin.