March 14, 2008

And This Is Why You Do Your Own Research...

You have to enjoy this bit of information in a Reuters story today by Daniel Trotta, where he simply parrots a claim made by anonymous police (my bold):

Interstate 95, which runs up the U.S. East Coast, is known to cops as the "Iron Pipeline" -- the conduit of choice for gun smugglers to move their hardware from the southern United States to New York city.

With formidable opponents in the gun manufacturers and gun owners, national politicians do little to stop this traffic, leaving gun control largely in the hands of local leaders.

"Where is the outrage in this country? Well, mayors see it," said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "We're the ones who have to go to the funerals. We're the ones that have to look somebody in the eye and say your spouse or your parent or your child is not going to come home."

Since Bloomberg became mayor in 2002, every gun homicide in the city -- including the killing of eight police officers -- has been committed with an illegal gun, police say.

The claim is false, and took me less time to prove than it took to write this sentence.

The following homicides were committed with legal police firearms since Bloomberg became Mayor:

  • On May 22, 2003, 43-year old Ousmane Zongo, an immigrant from Burkina Faso, was shot four times by Police Officer Bryan Conroy in a Chelsea warehouse. In 2005, Conroy was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to 5 years probation. In 2006, the city awarded the Zongo family $3 million to settle a wrongful death suit.
  • On January 24, 2004, Housing Bureau officer Richard Neri, Jr. accidentally shot to death Timothy Stansbury, a 19-year-old black man who was trespassing on the roof landing of a Bedford-Stuyvesant housing project. Stansbury was unarmed but had apparently startled Neri upon opening the roof door coming upon the officer. At that point, Neri discharged his service firearm and mortally wounded Stansbury. Although Commissioner Kelly stated that the shooting appeared "unjustified", a Brooklyn jury found that no criminal act occurred and that the event was a tragic accident. Neri was thus cleared of all charges.[35] The city later agreed to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the Stansbury family. A grand jury declined to indict Neri but Kelly later suspended him for 30 days without pay and permanently stripped him of his weapon.
  • On November 25, 2006, plainclothes police officers shot and killed Sean Bell and wounded two of his companions, one critically, outside of the Kalua Cabaret in Queens. No weapon was recovered.[37] According to the police, Bell rammed his vehicle into an undercover officer and hit an unmarked NYPD minivan twice, prompting undercover officers to fire fifty rounds into Bell's car. A bullet piercing the nearby AirTrain JFK facility startled two Port Authority patrolmen stationed there. [38] An undercover officer claims he heard one of the unarmed man's companions threaten to get his gun to settle a fight with another individual.
  • On November 12, 2007, five NYPD police officers shot and killed 18-year-old Khiel Coppin. The officers responded to a 911 call where Coppin could be heard saying he had a gun. When the officers arrived at the scene, Khiel approached officers with a black object, which was later identified as a hairbrush, in his hand and repeatedly ignored orders to stop. This prompted officers to open fire at Coppin. Of the 20 shots fired, 8 hit Khiel, who died at the scene. This shooting has been ruled to be with both NYPD rules for the use of deadly force and the New York State Penal Law provisions, so no charges, criminal or administrative, will be filed against these officers.

It took my about 15 seconds to pull that information from Wikipedia, citing homicides committed with NYPD-issued (and therefore, presumably legal) firearms.

New York also has hundreds of homicides per year and shotguns and rifles are not illegal to buy, sell, or own within city limits, so even the claim that civilian homicides are all performed with illegally-owned firearms is also very suspect.

There is also the pesky little problem that not all firearms used in homicides are recovered, making it impossible to tell if the firearm used was illegally or legally owned.

Nice job vetting your story, Reuters. You're great stenographers, even if you aren't very good journalists.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 14, 2008 02:51 PM

The Deciders. With layers and layers of editing and fact-checking.........

Posted by: Techie at March 14, 2008 04:30 PM

Doesn't surprise me one bit.

Posted by: brando at March 14, 2008 05:14 PM

On the other hand, he wrote "police say", so at least the reporter covered himself. At the same time, it is no surprise to see the press writing what they are told - in more ways than one.

Posted by: Barry Heim at March 14, 2008 05:44 PM

On the other hand, he wrote "police say", so at least the reporter covered himself. At the same time, it is no surprise to see the press writing exactly what they are told - in more ways than one.

Posted by: Barry Heim at March 14, 2008 05:44 PM

I don't believe Reuters when they give today's date.

Why does anybody read them, much less expect them to tell the truth?

Go some place far more reliable, like NBC.

Posted by: Larry Sheldon at March 14, 2008 07:59 PM

Any time is see those kinds of absolutes in a story it tends to make me want to fire up goggle in another tab of my browser just to throw in a couple of search terms and go back to that tab later to do some fact checking.

Posted by: JustADude at March 14, 2008 09:22 PM

Reuters does news? Who knew.. heh

It's like the same editors work for all of them (AP/AFP/Reuters/et al) or don't work if you look at it that way.

Posted by: Verlin Maritn at March 15, 2008 08:38 AM

The "Iron Pipeline?" The "Iron Pipeline?"

I've heard I-95 called a lot of things, but not that.

And considering how closely its monitored for drug traffic, I have a hard time believing that I wouldn't have heard if major gun shipments were being intercepted as well.

Posted by: EW1(SG) at March 15, 2008 11:48 AM


that doesn't sound like a name created by someone who knows much about firearms.

Posted by: iconoclast at March 15, 2008 11:42 PM

Actually Bob, they could be good journalists, by definition at However they are lousy reporters due to the definition of "journalism", they choose to operate by merriamwebsters definition 2c instead of definition 2b.

Posted by: Boss429 at March 16, 2008 04:28 PM

Come on Bob. It's obvoius and pretty safe to assume that Reuters AND the NYC police are talking about civilian-on-civilian homicides, not police-on-civilian.

Do they really need to spell that out for you?

Your point about homicides from rifles or shotguns is pure conjecture.

Posted by: dude at March 17, 2008 08:58 AM

I won't even give them the 'Good Stenographers" award.
I've seen too many examples of "spell-check spelling", mixing up homonyms to say anyone even proof reads over there.
And no, I have better things to do with my time than keep a record of every their/there/they're and its/it's error passed by the Reuters "editors".

Posted by: Windy Wilson at March 17, 2008 07:45 PM

"Come on Bob. It's obvoius and pretty safe to assume that Reuters AND the NYC police are talking about civilian-on-civilian homicides, not police-on-civilian."

Why would they do that? Embarrassment, or just preferring a lie that supports their agenda?

Posted by: rj at March 17, 2008 11:36 PM

Police are civilians.

Posted by: brando at March 18, 2008 12:01 AM