The only time that I’m pretty sure that I locked up the wrong man was during a gang war in the South Bronx, a few years ago. There were five or six shootings, and about a dozen people were hit. No one died, and I don’t think any of the incidents made the papers. My case involved a young man I’ll call J, who suffered a graze wound to the head. He told me that K had done it. Most of the shootings in our precinct should have been as amenable to quick arrest as that one, but one of the more dispiriting aspects of being an inner city detective is how much time is spent, in vain, begging victims to tell you who shot them. They know, but they won’t say. While I was delighted to close my case, another detective in my squad was not: K was his witness, in a prior incident. “I locked up J’s buddy for one of the earlier shootings,” he said. “J was there. He’s just trying to dirty up whoever’s testifying.” It was an interesting theory, but it didn’t change my obligation to my victim. K hadn’t been inspired to speak up… Read full this story
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