The mother of an innocent man the NYPD killed 16 years ago demanded a meeting with Police Commissioner William Bratton to explain why he promoted one of the shooting officers to sergeant.
Preaching at his weekly Harlem rally, the activist Rev. Al Sharpton said he’s outraged at Thursday’s elevation of Kenneth Boss — one of the four officers who opened fire on Amadou Diallo in 1999 in a hail of 41 bullets.
Boss, of Bohemia, was among 300 officers and civilians promoted on Thursday. He’s the only one still on the force, after all four officers were acquitted of criminal charges in 2000.
Kadiatou Diallo, the slain man’s mother, stood with Sharpton and described seeing news of the promotion by Bratton as “a knife through my heart.”
“The same way he was there to promote Kenneth Boss, shaking his hand and smiling, he should give us the dignity and respect to sit with us and hear about our concerns,” she said from Sharpton’s pulpit.
Asked Saturday afternoon by a reporter whether Bratton would grant such a meeting, an NYPD spokesman said he did not know whether the department would comment Saturday. A message left at a telephone number listed for Boss was not returned.
The head of the detectives’ labor union, Michael Palladino, has defended the promotion.
“This was certainly a tragedy, but he was acquitted after a full-blown investigation,” Palladino said. “He took the test like everyone else.”
The four cops were part of a special plainclothes crime unit, later disbanded, that had long been the subject of complaints about aggressive tactics but that the Giuliani administration said helped drive down crime. The cops, all white, confronted Amadou Diallo, a 23-year-old West African immigrant and street vendor who was in the doorway of his Bronx apartment. The cops later said they thought he was reaching for a gun, when he was apparently retrieving his wallet. No gun was found.
Kadiatou Diallo said she wants to discuss her son’s case and Boss’s involvement in an encounter two years before the Diallo shooting in which Boss fatally shot a suspect in Brooklyn who Boss said brandished a sawed-off 20-gauge shotgun, which was later found to be unloaded and inoperable.
“People view him as a killer who killed Amadou and another person,” the mother said. “He already had this cloud on him wherever he goes.”
At Sharpton’s Saturday rally, a woman in the audience shouted, “kill the killers!” — prompting a quick rebuke from a city councilman at the pulpit, Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn): “I didn’t say that, sister!”