Recently released video of the now infamous Crown Heights shooting—where eight police officers fired 73 shots at Leroy Webster—clearly shows material exploding at Johnson’s feet as Webster frantically attempts to re-enter the building and escape the fusillade. Before Webster turned and aimed the gun at the police. The Big Apple press has ignored this obvious aspect of the video. They’ve also accepted the Police claim that it’s impossible to ID the the bullet that killed bystander Denise Gay, even though the CSI crew somehow ruled out the bullets fired by Johnson. No one wants to hamstring the $3.9 billion dollar force, but it’s way past time that the Big Apple po-po reviewed their firearms tactics, training and equipment.

30 Responses to New Video: Did Leroy Webster Fire on Cops in Self-Defense?

  1. Mr. Farago,
    It takes a true coward to sit behind your computer and bad mouth Officers that returned fire while they were clearly under fire. Johnson fired the first shot the second he stepped out of the house and continued to fire throughout the whole video. It’s completely understandable why the Officers fired 73 rounds. Eight Officers with semi autos with 12 to 15 rounds each and you can empty a mag in about 5 seconds. I know that you would have done it differently. You would’nt have shot that poor youth because you would have been running the other way leaving your fellow Officers to deal with him. RealWorld

    • “It’s completely understandable why the Officers fired 73 rounds.”

      Umm… No it is not. Especially since a bystander was shot.

    • “Eight Officers with semi autos with 12 to 15 rounds each and you can empty a mag in about 5 seconds.”

      So, are we to assume police training for such a situation boils down to: “Point the noisy end in the general direction of the bad guy and pull the trigger real fast until it goes click”?

    • “It takes a true coward to sit behind your computer and bad mouth Officers that returned fire while they were clearly under fire.”

      Starting a rebuttal by insults and finger pointing is the worst way of getting your point across. I have noted that a polite well thought out answer will go a very long way on TTAG. Your comment is neither. Please go somewhere else where they like this kind of crap.

  2. If Eusi Johnson was the last one out of the building, this video shows him walking out of the building firing his pistol at the top of the steps. He then walks down and out through the gate before turning and running back to the door. I could not find another video on the internet. Am I missing something?

  3. He clearly fired on the officers while walking out, then doubled back for cover and got hung up by the door. The officers clearly had the right to shoot, he fired upon them and they were threated. These people do this for a living, day in and out. At the end of the day they want to go home and see their families. For some reason the media wants them to take chances with their lives for the sake of the criminals? Eusi could have gone in the house and taken hostages. Swat would have to go in and risk their lives, or he could have turned around again got a lucky bullet right into an officer. He was armed, dangerous, and hostile. He fired first, and had to be put down. He never threw his hands up and surrendered.

    • Eusi’s initial shot is NOT at the police. It’s at the fleeing men who proceed him. He looks left, sees the cops and runs back to the building.

      • I do not think that distinction matters. He walked out of a building firing his weapon. The cops had an obligation to get him to stop. Firing at him was the logical choice.

        8 officers emptying their magazines was poor shooting and created a much deadlier situation for bystanders.

        • Do we know if they issued a warning? Or did they see a black man with a gun running away and open fire?

        • I hope they saw a man who walked out of a building and fired a weapon at someone on a sidewalk who was running away. I have read nothing about issued warnings one way or another. I was not there so I do not know for sure. The decision was made to shoot. It may or may not be justified. That remains to be seen. It sure is hell piss poor performance by 8 officers.

        • How many of those officers actually saw the suspect shoot? How many officers started shooting because another officer was? How did the officer know the suspects shooting was unjustified? According to Wikipedia, it looks like NY has castle doctrine (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_doctrine#New_York)

          If you watch the video, as soon as the cops open up, he tries running back inside but cant because the door auto-locked. It looks quite clear that he opened fire on the officers in self defense, and that the officers were attempting to perform an extra-judical execution.

        • Those are good questions that I hope the officers involved have to answer. All I saw in the video was a man who walked out of a building and fired a weapon at someone who was running away. Other persons off camera shot at the guy and he ran back to the building and tried to get inside.

          No where in the link provided did I see that NY Castle Doctrine covers that situation. Once they run away it is rarely justifiable to shoot.

          The police may or may not be justified in shooting. NYPD has not released all of the facts and most likely will not. Robert’s original post about the media glossing over the details of this tragedy is fact. I will not condemn the officer’s decision to shoot with the facts available. If it comes out that you are correct, I will happily bash them too. I will blast them about what I believe to be obvious lack of shooting discipline where an innocent bystander was killed. Since CSI ruled out the individual, the police must have killed her. Unless there was a third shooter on the grassy knoll.

        • The link I provided said the suspect was justified, specifically, “…no retreat is required when a person is in his dwelling and not the initial aggressor, or is defending against kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible criminal sexual act or robbery…”

          One thing that makes it unjustifiable was how did all 8 cops know that HE shot the gun. Maybe 1 or 2 cops saw the suspect shoot at the other guy, but I highly doubt all 8 did. The first 1 or 2 officers may (or may not) have been justified in opening fire, but the other 6 officers who most likely didnt know who shot the gun were completely unjustified, and were simply shooting because other cops were shooting.

          Also if it is unjustifiable under castle doctrine for the suspect to shoot at the retreating black guy, how is it justifiable for the cops to shoot at the suspect was clearly trying to run away?

        • Matt, in the Common Law, people had the right to shoot in self defense to prevent the crime and during the felon’s immediate flight therefrom. The Castle Doctrine that we all look upon as a great thing does not restore our lost right to shoot in the “immediate flight.” The lawgivers may giveth, but they always taketh away.

        • Not enough facts to decide the LEO’s justification.

          As for you Castle Doctrine reference, read all of it. Shooting at someone while they are running away is rarely reasonable. Even in Texas. The video shows no justification for him to shoot at those who ran.

          This is my opinion. I try not to let my biases get the better of me. I suspect there will be no justification for the police actions if all of the facts are released. A very big IF.

          Common Sense or moral reasons have no bearing on the Law. The Law ain’t fair.

  4. I’m far from a police apologist, but this video makes a strong case that the police acted properly. Johnson fired or brandished his gun at a person, and whether it was a cop or one of the men seen fleeing is irrelevant. Using deadly force without authority is a violent felony in New York and just about every other jurisdiction in this and every other solar system. In New York, police have the right to use deadly force not only during the commission of a violent felony, but also in the immediate flight therefrom. Johnson was attempting to flee and was a legal target whether or not he was shooting at the time. Yes, even if the po-po shot him in the back, it would be legal if it was during the immediate flight from a violent felony. When Johnson reached the door and could not escape into the building, he made a choice to turn and shoot instead of dropping his piece and surrendering. Had he dropped his weapon, the police would have lost all justification for shooting. All felonious conduct would have ceased, and the immediate flight would also have terminated. But Johnson made a bad choice.

    From what I see in this all-too-brief video, this was a legal shooting. Without more to go on, the cops should be criticized for their godawful marksmanship, but they acted within the law. This wasn’t a “black man with a cell phone” situation.

    • Yeah, I tend to agree. When someone goes out in broad daylight in a residential neighborhood and starts shooting up the place I say take em out. Of course thats just me, some people may like living in a lawless war zone but its not really my bag.

  5. You are all missing the point. It is illegal to have a handgun in NYC. We may see this as a violation of our Second Amendment rights but it is the law. So prima facia, this man is a felon who purchased a gun on the street. It is also highly likely that this entire incident is gang related. What is inexcusable are the poor tactics and fire discipline shown by responding officers that led to a collateral death of a civilian bystander. If this happened in Baghdad or Kabul the platoon leader would have been immediately relieved of his command.

  6. The most important questions here aren’t whether or not Webster was justified in shooting, or whether or not the police were justified…the most important question is who was justified in shooting Denise Gay? This shouldn’t be a controversial question, for anyone. No shooter that evening had any justification , under any permutation of the law I can imagine, for shooting Denise Gay. This was simply irresponsible and unjustified use of deadly force. As has been discussed many times here and elsewhere, you own every bullet that leaves the muzzle of your gun. No matter who you are. If anyone can imagine a DGU wherein the defending shooter emptied their magazine in a spray of gunfire, did or did not manage to hit the attacker, but did manage to kill a bystander and was subsequently cleared because they justifiably feared for their lives, then perhaps I’m too stringent in my critique. But I don’t think so.

    As a moderately tangential corollary, I’m a little weary of hearing the ill-trained and irresponsible actions of police officers justified with phrases like they’re “just doing their job” and “they all just want to go home to their families.” These are not justifications for indiscriminate action. While there are certainly risks in police work, these risks are inherent in the job, and are assumed when you take the job. They in no way alleviate the responsibility to act in defense of the public.

    There are a number of questions to be asked in this incident, but let’s not miss the one undisputed fact, Denise Gay should not be dead.

    JSG

    • +++1

      would a civilian without the “extensive” training of a police officer be given the SAME consideration? no way. you hit the nail right on the head, Denise Gay should not be dead. If it was the cops that shot her, the officer should PERSONALLY be held responsible in addition to the NYPD making some sort of reparation. it’s all too easy to hide behind the shield and be above the law…

  7. This is just weird, period. Why were there 8 police officers at the scene, seconds after the guy runs out of the apartment and starts firing?

    Furthermore, the video doesn’t match the original story in the NYT where “Several officers confronted Mr. Webster, who officials said ignored their orders and fired at them.” If that was the case, then according to the video, in less than six seconds, Webster openned fire, the cops appeared shouting orders, Webster disregarded those orders, attempted to flee back into the building and the cops openned fire.

    What makes the whole thing even more bizarre is the sheer number of rounds expended “in two disctinct volleys” by eight different weapons in such a short timeline (if the video is accurate).

    I just don’t understand how the cops got there so fast, issued orders and ended up in a close quarter fire fight with pistols all in less than 6 seconds. The only logical answer is that all 8 cops were allready on the scene, literally at max effective range, before Websters chased the other men into the street and openned fire.

  8. I would just like to clarify one thing. LEROY WEBSTER was the shooter in this tragedy NOT Eusi Johnson. Mr. Johnson is one of the men seen fleeing from the scene as Webster follows, gun in hand. Webster is the one seen exchanging fire with the police, in the video.

    Eusi Johnson was shot in the neck. Murdered, just feet from his own home (towards which he is running). He collapsed in front of the subway station before getting there. To his family. He was unarmed. No other gun was recovered because Eusi Randy Johnson did NOT have one.

    Robert Farago, really, sir? It is horrible that I have seen their names reversed in a number of articles and in initial news reports and of course, by a number of people in the comments section here. BUT you linked another article (that may be flawed in its own way) that DOES have the names correct, throughout.

    As the family of Eusi R. Johnson mourns the tragic loss of a beloved member, the least people can do is read for comprehension and not continue to tarnish this young man’s name. If you simply clicked on the link in marked “Crown Heights shooting” and read even a portion of that article, you would see that Eusi Johnson was the man that was fatally wounded, in this senseless act of violence.

    I’m disappointed but not at all surprised.

    RIP
    Mr. Eusi Johnson and Ms. Denise Gay

    May something valuable be learned from this tragedy and may each family, ultimately, find peace.

  9. First I want to say…. R.I.P to Denise Gray! Second, although I don’t condone violence or murder I believe Eusi Johnson got what he desrved! As you can see the NYPD only released a portion of the video! Has anyone asked themselves how come you don’t see Eusi and his friends enter the building but only running out??? Or how come there is like a sort of glitch in the video as if it was altered or tampered with! Well ill tell you why…. they want to cover their asses for recklessly shooting that innocent woman sitting on her step! And it would be only right to point the blame at the black man shooting the gun, whom they didnt know at the moment was defending himself from a gang of guys accompanied by Eusi trespassing on his property! Not to go all in detail but, Leroy asked Eusi and his friends to leave the lobby because his mom was concerned and nervous by their presence! They were there threatening Leroy and another friend who mysteriously was not mentioned in the article! Eusi and his friends refused to leave and continued to threaten and wave an unloaded gun! Leroy, his mother and his friend’s life and safety was threatened, therefore he acted in defense! The NYPD also fails to share the fact that they arrested Leroy’s friend (whom was his only witness) to prove his case! Leroy chased the gang out the building shooting but once he spots the police tries to run back inside! His friend was on the other side of the door but couldnt attempt to open the door for him because of the bullets that lit up the door! Yes, Leroy could have put his hands up and surrendered but he feared being gunned down, so he was going out with a fight! Putting myself in his shoes if I just had to defend myself against a gang of dudes but before I get the opportunity to put my weapon down and surrender bullets are flying in my direction and knowing the police today, they show no mercy to anyone with a gun I would have did the same! I get everyone is entitled to an opinion but sometimes is best not to speak on things you dont know about or dont have the full facts too! #FreeLee

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