Nadler Hails Federal Judge's Decision to Overturn Verdict of Gidone Busch Civil Suit

Sep 8, 2004

Washington, DC -- Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today hailed a federal judge's decision to overturn a jury's verdict that found five police officers were justified in the shooting death of Gidone Busch, a 31-year-old Hasidic Jewish man with a history of mental illness. District Judge Sterling Johnson, who found that the officers "gave exaggerated or overstated versions of the events, especially regarding key details about the shooting," granted a new trial to the Busch family to seek justice for the officers' unnecessary and excessive force that led to the death of Gidone.

"Today is a victory for the Busch family in their quest for justice and pursuit of the truth surrounding the tragic shooting death of Gidone Busch by police officers," said Nadler. "I was very shocked and saddened that the jury on the Gidone Busch case decided that the police officers 'acted properly' in committing this terrible act. There is no doubt in my mind that the police did not 'act properly' when they shot and killed Gidone Bush. Gidone's shooting death leaves many questions that will hopefully be answered as the Busch family pursues its lawsuit against the City for this tragedy."

Gidone, an unarmed man with a history of mental illness, was shot and killed by police officers on the night of August 30, 1999. The police account was that Mr. Busch was lunging at police officers with a dangerous weapon -- a hammer -- when he was shot. New York City's own medical expert testified during the trial that Bush was in fact not lunging or charging when he was shot, but standing straight. This stunning discovery reinforces the need for the Justice Department to reopen this investigation, which Nadler has been calling for since 2002.

Several witnesses of the crime testified that Mr. Busch was shot after he broke free of the police effort to contain him. As he stood on the sidewalk, with a hammer raised over his head, not moving, not posing any threat to the police, who were at least five feet away -- police fired a single shot, followed by a volley of shots.

Nadler has called on the Justice Department to investigate the clearly unjustified death of Gidone Busch at the hand of police officers and found that the Justice Department has even stated, in a letter to the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau, that there is a strong possibility that NYPD members colluded with one another to coordinate their account of what happened. Despite this finding, the U.S. Attorney merely referred the case to the NYPD, which has failed to pursue the investigation.

"It has been over four years since the shooting death of Gidone Busch. I am very pleased that justice was served today for the Busch family, who can now get a new trial without exaggerated or overstated versions of events by the police officers responsible for Gidone's death," said Nadler.