An off-duty New York police officer who shot and killed 37-year-old Delrawn Small in front of his family was acquitted by a Brooklyn jury on Monday (Nov. 6).
“He sat there and said he killed a man for looking at him,” said Small’s brother, Victor Dempsey, according to NY Daily News. “That’s a fact. He said he killed a man for looking at him. This is a guy we need to get off the streets. He cannot represent the NYPD. He cannot represent law enforcement. He can’t. He should have been held accountable today but unfortunately he wasn’t. Now I’ve got to stand with my family and look at them in the eye and not know how to explain what just happened.”
“Coming to court and having faith in the justice system that is not built for black people,” Small’s sister Victoria Davis added. “Do you know how much money has been lost? Do you know how many components of our lives have been affected negatively? He has to be fired. He will not get another dime from me. He will not.”
Wayne Isaacs, of the NYPD, was found not guilty on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges for shooting Delrawn Small in a July 2016 incident. Surveillance video that surfaced a week after of the incident appeared to illustrate a road rage altercation: Small walks up to the driver’s window of Isaac’s car, and within seconds, he is stumbling away and Isaacs drives off. Small then falls to the ground.
Isaacs told a 911 operator that he was an off-duty police officer, and that he was attacked. And a jury in Brooklyn Supreme Court believed him – he walked out of court Monday, cleared of all charges.
Civil rights organizations and activists have also decried the verdict, saying that it continues the country’s legacy of police brutality and devaluation of black lives. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill released a statement. The statement read, in part:
_”Another trial for police violence, another officer acquittal. Even as someone with great faith in the legal system’s ability to hold wrongdoers accountable, it is agonizing to watch officer after officer evade accountability. This acquittal, on top of the countless others that have come before it, makes clear that the legal standards governing these cases of police violence must be corrected. As it stands, the law has afforded officers almost blanket immunity for taking the life of unarmed citizens.
“We know that Black men and women are far more likely to be victimized by police violence than individuals of any other race. Regardless of the race of the officer, we must confront the systemic issues that allow law enforcement to kill unarmed Black people with impunity.”_
Ifill also called on the NYPD to terminate Officer Isaacs from the force, and to “conduct a through investigation and impose appropriate discipline.”
See other reactions to the verdict below.