NYPD Commissioner William Bratton backed his police officers in the controversial shooting death of an apparently armed man in Queens two weeks ago, saying at an unrelated news conference people risk being shot if they draw weapons on police officers.
Responding to criticism by the family of the dead man, Bratton said he was “very confident” that the police version of the April 17 incident would show that his officers were in the right when they fired at George Tillman, who investigators said drew a handgun.
“We are meeting with the AG [New York Attorney General] but I am very confident, very confident that our version of that story will stand up,” Bratton said when told Tillman’s family members and their attorney said they believed he didn’t have a weapon.
“My cops go out there every day to put their lives at risk and the attorneys, the games they play, the families that never want to believe that their loved ones are involved in anything. I am sorry, that individual is carrying a gun, raised that gun and was shot,” said Bratton. “The best way to not get shot by New York City police officers is not carry a gun and not raise that gun towards them.”
Bratton made his remarks at a news conference in which he and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. revealed the arrests of six out-of-state residents charged with smuggling 82 weapons, most of them handguns, into the city from Georgia and Virginia. The guns were driven north along Interstate 95, the so-called “Iron Pipeline,” which has been targeted in past cases, said Vance.
Tillman, 32, of Baltimore was shot and killed April 17 after he was spotted by anti-crime police in South Ozone Park in a car drinking alcohol from a bottle, police said. According to investigators, when police approached the vehicle, Tillman got out and started running, with the butt of a .40-caliber handgun showing in his waistband.
A police version of the shooting said he was ordered to drop the gun, but instead turned with the weapon in hand and pointed it at police, who then fired several rounds, striking him a number of times.
According to reports, family attorney Jeffrey Lichtman has said there was a video of the shooting which he said made it look like an “execution.” Lichtman has not made the video available but he and the Rev. Al Sharpton have asked for New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to investigate.
“Why accuse me of playing games in this case?” Lichtman said. “I am not the one who, unlike members of the NYPD, are being accused every day in newspapers of lying, cheating stealing and covering.
“Bratton has made no attempt to talk with any witnesses on our side . . . unlike Attorney General Schneiderman, who has been in constant contact with us.”
Bratton stressed his office was in contact with Schneiderman.