Officer Wayne Isaacs of the NYPD fatally shot motorist Delrawn Small, 37, on July 4 during a road-rage incident. Angry that Isaacs had cut him off on Atlantic Ave., Small followed the cop in his car for several blocks before confronting him.
Isaacs, who was off duty at the time, initially claimed that he had opened fire from inside his car after Small repeatedly punched him in the face. However, video evidence tells another story.
Contradicting the officer’s statement, the video shows Isaacs firing shots within seconds of the victim approaching his car. Physical contact between the two men is not apparent on the video.
On Monday, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order giving authorities the go-ahead to conduct a full investigation of Small’s death. While the NYPD and the state Attorney General’s office investigate the evidence, Isaacs has been placed on modified duty during which he will work a desk job.
“They’re still seeking additional videos,” said New York City police commissioner William Bratton. “They’re still seeking to identify the motorist who was … stopped at the red light that may have witnessed some of the circumstances that occurred there.”
There are two sides to every story, but sadly, no one will ever get to hear Small’s version. Was it actually road rage that instigated the incident, or are we missing a huge piece of the puzzle? Speeding and related automotive accidents happen far too often, with the National Highway Traffic Security Administration estimating the total cost of these accidents to be around $40.4 billion each year, but this incident cost one man his life. Regardless of the catalyst, the video shows no evidence that the gunshots were warranted.
This devastating incident has occurred in the midst of a nationwide embroilment regarding police brutality and the number of high-profile shootings of unarmed black men. Protests, demonstrations, and outright rage sparked by the recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have shaken the country as people demand political action and systemic change.