On July 4, 2016, New York City police officer Wayne Isaacs killed Delrawn Small in a shooting death that Small’s family and advocates say was nothing more than cold-blooded murder. According to Small’s girlfriend, Zaquanna Albert, who was with him at the time of his death, Isaacs cut them off in a road rage incident. When Small got out of the car to confront him, Isaacs proceeded to shoot him as soon as he approached the driver’s side window. He was off-duty at the time.
After being prosecuted by the attorney general’s office under a fairly recent executive order in which New York State is to investigate all killings of unarmed civilians by police officers in the NYPD, the case went to trial late last month. On Monday afternoon, a jury in Brooklyn found Isaacs not guilty of murder or manslaughter in the death of Delrawn Smith.
“We are disappointed by the verdict, but we respect the jury’s determination and thank them for their service,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “I also want to thank the family of Delrawn Small for their courage and perseverance in the face of tragedy. My office will continue to investigate these cases without fear or favor and follow the facts wherever they may lead.”
Isaacs’s version of the story is that Small was drunk when he approached the car—then threatened and attacked him and he was concerned for his safety. This makes a convincing story except surveillance cameras seem to show something different. They show Small’s being shot three times within seconds of approaching Isaac’s car. Small’s family is understandably devastated.
“What Wayne Isaacs did that night – immediately shooting and killing our brother as he approached his car and leaving him to bleed out and die, when he had so many other options – was murder, in cold blood,” [a statement released by Small’s brother and sister] said. “It is dangerous that once again a police officer is being treated as if they are above the law.”
They also called on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill to “immediately fire” Isaacs from the police department, calling him “a threat to public safety.”
Unfortunately, this is not new. In the statement about this case that they put out, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund reminds us that police officers are almost never held accountable taking the lives of unarmed civilians.