Wednesday, December 23, 2015

This Day in Crime History: DECEMBER 23, 1984 : BERNHARD GOETZ GOES ON THE LAM

Bernhard Goetz, who shot four young black men on a subway car the previous day, flees New York City and heads for New Hampshire after becoming the central figure in a media firestorm.

On the afternoon of December 22, Troy Canty, Barry Allen, Darrell Cabey, and James Ramseur reportedly approached Goetz as he was riding the subway and demanded $5. Goetz pulled out a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver and shot each of the boys in response. He then shot Cabey a second time, severing his spinal cord. After refusing to give up his gun, he walked to the end of train, jumped onto the tracks, and disappeared.

Immediately catching the public’s attention, the case ignited serious debate and controversy. While the so-called “Subway Vigilante” was on the lam in New Hampshire, police discovered that three of the shooting victims had been carrying screwdrivers in their pockets during the attempted mugging and all had significant criminal records. Many observers immediately used this information as justification for Goetz’s behavior, congratulating him for standing up to the boys.

Goetz turned himself in to New Hampshire police on December 31. Back in New York, he was released on $50,000 bail while a grand jury was convened. Goetz was initially indicted on only three counts of illegal gun possession, but prosecutors were dissatisfied with the insignificant charges, and the grand jury reconvened in March. This time they charged Goetz with four counts of attempted murder. The victims also instituted civil suits.

During the criminal trial, which began in December 1986, Goetz attempted to persuade jurors that he had acted in self-defense. To this end, the defense highlighted the fact that Goetz had been mugged in 1981 and the accused attacker was charged only with “mischievous mischief.” Goetz was found not guilty on all criminal charges but was found guilty for violating one minor gun statute, for which he received a one-year sentence. However, in the civil trial, Goetz was ordered to pay a multimillion-dollar sum for paralyzing Darrell Cabey, although it is unlikely that Cabey will ever receive the money.

In May 1985, James Ramseur held a gun while an associate raped, sodomized and robbed a pregnant 18-year-old woman on the rooftop of a Bronx building, and in 1986 was sentenced to 8 to 25 years in prison. According to the New York State Department of Corrections inmate search site, Ramseur served his sentence and was released in July 2010. Ramseur was found dead of a drug overdose, in an apparent suicide, in a Bronx motel room on December 22, 2011, the 27th anniversary of the incident on the No. 2 train.

Barry Allen was convicted for two robberies after the shooting, the first a 1986 chain snatching in the elevator of the building where he lived.The second arrest, in May 1991, brought him a sentence of three and a half to seven years for probation violation and third degree robbery. He was released on parole in December 1995.

After a number of minor arrests for petty offenses, Troy Canty was ordered to undergo an 18-month drug treatment program at a rehabilitation center, which he completed in 1989. He was later charged with assault, robbery, and resisting arrest in an altercation with his common-law wife in August 1996 but was not convicted and did not serve time.
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December 23, 1984 : Bernhard Goetz goes on the lam

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    December 23, 1984 : Bernhard Goetz goes on the lam
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    December 23, 2015
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    A+E Networks


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  3. Wow. This is a fascinating story on how so many social issues intersect. Apparantly, Goetz is now free and runs an electronics store in New York.