FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEAG
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2001(202) 202-514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
STATEMENT BY ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC H. HOLDER JR.
REGARDING THE CLOSING OF THE AMADOU DIALLO CASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice have completed their investigation into the shooting death of Amadou Diallo and have concluded that federal criminal civil rights charges against the four New York City police officers who fatally shot Mr. Diallo in February 1999 are not warranted.
The Department of Justice concluded it could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers willfully deprived Mr. Diallo of his constitutional right to be free from the use of unreasonable force. In order to prove such a violation, prosecutors must establish not only that excessive force was used under the circumstances, but also that the officers acted with the specific intent to use more force than was necessary, taking into account the officers' training, experience, and perceptions. Lacking such proof, federal civil rights charges are not warranted, the Department said.
Acting Attorney General Holder issued the following statement:
"I support the conclusions reached by the United States Attorney's Office and the Civil Rights Division. However, with the benefit of what is admittedly 20/20 hindsight, we now know that something went terribly wrong on February 4, 1999. Mr. Diallo, an unarmed individual, who committed no crime and no act of aggression, unnecessarily lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the members of his family for their tragic loss.
"We must learn from this deeply troubling incident. I believe that trust is at the heart of the lesson. Police departments must have the trust of the communities they serve in order to be effective. Trust is achieved when all citizens are viewed by the police in the same manner. Trust is achieved when a community sees well-trained officers acting respectfully, consistently, and appropriately. Trust is achieved when the police and community know each other as vital members of the same community rather than as foes. Trust is achieved when the community and police engage in an open and frank exchange to learn better each other's fears, responsibilities and needs. We must all work together to establish the trust essential between police officers and the communities they serve. In this way, Mr. Diallo's tragic death will not have been in vain."