At dawn on April 28th in 1973 Add Armstead, a black resident of Queens, New York, and his girlfriend’s son Clifford were walking down the street on the way to his weekend work at junkyard.
Suddenly a car pulls up and a white guy opens the door. He has a gun in his hand.
Thinking he was a robber, Armstead and the boy took off running. They heard the gunman yell “You black son of a bitches!”, then gunshots. The boy cried out “I’m shot!” and fell.
As Clifford lay dying Armstead kept running and stopped a police car nearby claiming that criminals had shot the boy. He soon learned that the two white men he encountered were police officers searching for two black men who had stolen a cab.
This alone was a terrible tragedy. What happened next made it heinous.
Not realizing that their walkie talkies were turned on the dispatcher at the other end hears the driver, Walter Scott, say “Die, you little bastard.” Then one of them cheers out “The good guys win!” It isn’t until the precinct commander arrives and looks at the body that they realize it is a kid.
Clifford was 10 years old at the time and a fourth grader in school. He weighed 90 pounds.
The officer who shot him was Thomas Shea. He was a 13 year veteran. He had shot people before.
Shea had received a medal for wounding a man once who attacked him, shot a drug suspect, missed one man he was chasing and shot another suspect in the neck. In the last case Shea claimed that the man had a gun. None was found. He had also once pistol whipped a teenager. Now he had killed a child.
The two officers claimed Clifford had pointed a gun at them, but scores of other policemen searching for the weapon found nothing.
Shea was acquitted of the killing. He was the first New York police man in 50 years to be charged with homicide. But he was still fired as a police officer.
The trial was a sensation. Most people and his fellow officers wanted him set free. Eleven white jurors and one black decided that he should not go to prison. No justice was done.
The Clifford case fortunately did make a difference in New York though. Since that time there has been a 90% reduction in the shootings between citizens and police. Maybe the same can happen in Ferguson.
Information gleamed from Justice Story, New York Daily News, Mar. 11, 2012
From therant.yuku.com topic 19277
From Sickness In the NYPD, New York Times, Archives, Oct. 11, 1998
From Suspects As Usual, http://www.villagevoice.com/2007-01-02/news/suspects-as-usual/3/