DA Bragg's office reviewing an NYPD officer who 'accidentally' fired a shot while clearing protesters

 May 4, 2024

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg could soon find himself in a dilemma where he may end up having to criminally prosecute disruptive pro-Hamas student protesters along with at least one of the New York City Police Department officers sent in to clear out an illegal protester occupation of a building on Columbia University's campus.

One of those NYPD officers is reported to have discharged his firearm while inside the building, and the DA's office is reportedly reviewing the incident, according to local Fox affiliate WNYW.

A spokesperson for the DA's office said that nobody was injured or killed in the shooting incident, and only other police officers -- and not any of the protesters -- were in the vicinity when the shot was fired.

NYPD shooting incident under review

The City was the first to report on the confirmation from DA Bragg's office about the reported shooting during Tuesday night's NYPD incursion into Columbia University's Hamilton Hall to dislodge several dozen pro-Palestinian protesters who illegally occupied the building.

Doug Cohen, a spokesman for Bragg, told the outlet that the Manhattan DA's Police Accountability Unit was already reviewing the incident in which nobody was harmed.

The City also reported that an unnamed spokesperson for the NYPD also confirmed that the incident had occurred Tuesday night and explained that the officer had been using a firearm "equipped with a flashlight" to navigate through a series of barricades erected by the protesters when they "accidentally" fired a single shot that struck a wall.

That spokesperson also emphasized that nobody was injured and that none of the protesters were in the immediate area when the shot was fired.

The report also noted that complaints had been raised about how the NYPD incursion into the occupied building resembled "a military operation" and involved the use of heavily armed officers who made use of "flash-bang" stun grenades upon entry and as they moved through barricaded hallways and doors.

Will Bragg actually prosecute the arrested protesters?

The big question now, according to Newsweek, is how DA Bragg will handle these two interrelated incidents and whether or not he will pursue criminal charges against the NYPD officer and the roughly 300 protesters arrested at Columbia University and City College of New York.

So far, charges have been filed against at least 74 protesters -- at least 46 at Columbia and 28 at City College -- that included felony burglary and criminal trespass charges against most, along with a handful of assault and weapons charges against a few.

But Bragg is facing sharp criticism and competing pressure from both sides of the equation, as supporters of law and order are demanding accountability for those arrested for criminal behavior while supporters of the anti-Israel protests are demanding leniency for those who they insist are only peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights.

Everything will have been "an absolute waste of time" if Bragg doesn't pursue charges

According to City & State, it appears that leniency has won out thus far, as more than two-thirds of the protesters who were arrested were summarily released with nothing more than a summons, which is just a low-level ticket that informs a recipient that they could potentially face prosecution for violating a law or regulation.

In a statement on Wednesday, DA Bragg told the media, "We will look carefully at each individual case on our docket and make decisions based on the facts and the law. That will include a thorough review of body cam footage and interviews with witnesses."

Yet, Republican City Council member Joe Borelli told the outlet, "If the DA doesn’t prosecute the bulk of those arrested then the entire negotiation with the campus administration, the entire police enforcement action, and all the national attention on this matter has been an absolute waste of time," and added critically of Bragg, "The ball is in his court, and I’m only confident in his shortcomings."

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