VIDEO: The Drug War and Policing in 21st Century New York City


The man being pursued by police below was allegedly smoking a marijuana cigarette. He was wielding a knife. Cops said he threatened them with it and that they tried to use pepper spray to disarm him. Failing that, after following him down a few city blocks at the heart of Times Square they shot him at least nine times:

I started working in the Times Square area dressing up as Shrek in 2006, before moving on to NBC and then Fox News, both right around the corner too. I walked across Times Square twice a day for about five years as part of my commute, and can say anecdotally that the smell of marijuana in the area is not all that much less common than the smell of, say, street meat. Sometimes you can smell marijuana and see cops from the same location.

Possession of marijuana (with intent only to use) is, technically, decriminalized in New York, and the mayor and police commissioner both said they supported Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to also decriminalize "open possession" (which would be the crime for which cops approached the man shot in the video). Cops in New York City have previously been known to induce people they've stopped to display the marijuana they're carrying to avoid a search that would lead to prosecution, and then once the marijuana is shown make an arrest for open possession.

One man says his cell phone was confiscated by police after he recorded the incident.

More details, and the NYPD's defense from The New York Post.

That drug war victory has got to be around the corner now.


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  1. But I gots ta know:

    Which Tea Party did the most-recent shooter belong to, and was he a white supremacist like the last guy, or just a regular people hater white guy like the dudes in CO and AZ? Plus airplane building crasher guy. And Ted Kaczynski.

  2. I started working in the Times Square area dressing up as Shrek in 2006

    I’m sorry.

    1. Complete this sentence:

      I started working in the Times Square area…

      as a mop attendant at a peep show.

      1. I got to skip that step! Doing the Shrek thing was one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had.

        1. There’s clearly something wrong with you, Ed.

          I always avoided Times Square as much as I could, unless I was going to see a show and couldn’t help it. Especially during the day. At least at night you get the light show.

        2. What exactly does shrek do in times square?

          1. Mops up at the furrys’ peep shows. Duh

          1. I thought that was Hugh.

  3. Well clearly a publicly displayed joint was a good reason to kill/injure a man and endanger the dozens of people on the street. NYPD- to serve and pointlessly endanger your life.

    1. Let’s get one thing straight: they didn’t kill him because he was smoking a joint.

      I am no fan of the NYPD, but even I have to say the shooting looks completely justified. As far as anyone knows, the guy was approached for smoking a joint in public, which – like it or not – is still illegal. When he was approached, he pulled a knife and started swinging. They tried pepper-spraying him several times with little effect. When he lunged at a cop, they shot him.

      Frankly, I don’t think shootings get a whole lot more justified than that. The shooting had nothing to do with drugs, except maybe that the guy was on them. Would the cops have approached him if smoking marijuana in public were legal? Probably not, but let’s not overlook the fact that the guy had ELEVEN prior arrests, including ones for robbery and criminal possession of a weapon, and pulling a knife on a bunch of cops over a misdemeanor charge does not exactly say “well-balanced personality”.

  4. Was the cameraman having a seizure or what exactly?

    1. Small cameras aren’t easy to hold steady, which is why cell phone video often looks like the guy holding it is having an epileptic fit. It gets worse when the person is walking or running like the person who took this video was.

      It’s the one bad thing about cell phone cameras; if they do manage to get video of an incident like this, the video is often so poor that it is difficult to tell what happened. It doesn’t matter if your phone can take HD video if you can’t keep it focused on what you’re recording.

  5. Serious inquiry: would someone please enlighten me? It seems that when cops shoot, they shoot to kill. Is it absolutely against policy to shoot to stop/harm? I never hear about cops intentionally shooting someone in the legs, for example.

    1. Why is it no one shoots to maim any more?

      Just askin’ questions here.

      1. There’s a guy with a KNIFE. He’s out in the open in Times Square. Even assuming he’s a homicidal maniac, and even assuming I’m a private citizen carrying my own pistol, I wouldn’t try to kill him — I’d try to make him harmless.

        1. Shooting to wound is stupid. Aiming for extremities makes it more likely to miss the target, and there’s no guarantee that you won’t kill them anyway.

          1. shoulders bellies and groins are not extremities…

            Plus nine shots. If an attacker has anything less then a gun i would put only one hole in him.

            1. I always practice groin shots at the shooting range. It’s just funny to see the targets’ junk filled with holes.

            2. A belly shot is almost as likely to kill as a chest shot; the aorta artery runs right down to about your pelvis before it branches off into the femoral arteries, and if it is hit at any point the person is likely to bleed out in just a few seconds. Same with the femoral arteries, which is why leg shots aren’t all that great an option either. The shoulders have the brachial arteries going through them, and again, striking one of those is a good way to bleed a person out, though they probably won’t bleed to death quite as quick as a strike to the femoral or aorta.

              Simply put, shooting someone is too likely to kill them to go for disabling shots. It is far better to go for a less-lethal option like a taser. This situation would have been perfect for one, but unfortunately it seems officers only use them for pain compliance.

              1. It’s really too bad that he wasn’t a pregnant woman sitting in a car and being given a speeding ticket while mouthing off to the cop, because then they could have tased the guy instead.

    2. What if they shot him and he was still able to put the joint to his lips and take a drag? Better safe than sorry.

    3. Yes. They are aiming for center of mass. Also, what Coeus said.

      1. Hey, I’m not going to argue – I know as much about guns as I do astro-physics. But it would seem I could walk up to within 20 feet of the guy and shoot about 5 times and hit his legs. Or shoot for his stomach, which is not an extremity (though, for all I know, that IS where this particular guy was shot).

        Regardless, then, police either shoot to kill or they don’t shoot at all?

        1. It’s hard enough to hit a target when you’re shooting at the range, standing still, calm, relaxed. Trying to do movie fantasy accuracy shots is not realistic when you are running, pumped up on adrenalin, and your target is moving.

        2. police either shoot to kill or they don’t shoot at all?

          Basically yes.

          The reason: dead people don’t testify.

          When I was young and fluffy, I was doing my 11 months conscription in the Hungarian People’s Army. I was on sentry duty on New Years’ Eve — there was an expectation that some dudes will try to scale the walls to go out for some celebrating. Before we started, the duty officer told us: “I don’t want any shooting; but if there is, I don’t want any live witness.”

        3. Regardless, then, police either shoot to kill or they don’t shoot at all?

          Not really, though the result is often the same. They are supposed to shoot to disable the threat. This guy had a knife though, not a gun (assuming that wasn’t a lie). Once he hit the ground they should have stopped firing and slowly approached. Unfortunately, they are prone in the heat of the moment to continue firing, usually to the point they empty the magazine. They might have actually stopped when he hit the ground, it’s possible with that many officers firing to get 9 bullets in him before he reacts.

  6. I have been canning all day. 8 pints of jalepeno relish, 9 quarts of butternut squash soup, 12 quarts of spaghetti sauce and about 40 lbs of boudin. It was enormously satisfying, but I am exhausted and dammit…. I missed all the stories here today.

    So Ed, you are my first victim today.

    OT- I have been thinking about something and thought I would see what y’all think of it. Does anyone here know of any private schools anywhere that are Libertarian?
    What would happen if such a school were formed and graduated a hundred kids educated in Libertarian principles per year for say…five or ten years?

    I think, in my state, if such a thing were accomplished, and those kids encouraged into business and law and to get elected to various offices, it would make one hell of a difference. Maybe not just on the state level but nationally as well.

    Any thoughts?

    1. I suspect that about the time you’d start making a difference is about the time that private libertarian schools would be outlawed.


      1. Thats no snark. It is probably a realistic assessment. I am amazed at how frightening the idea of people thinking for themselves is to certain types.

        We just got charter schools here and a voucher system. The teachers union sued and lost, but resorted to threatening individual schools if they took part in the voucher system. Pure thugs.

        If they fail at that I fully expect private schools to be vandalized/ individual teachers to be bullied or de-certified/ who knows what else.

        1. What state are you in?

          Nonetheless, I’ve been a libertarian for, umm, many years. And I long ago came to the conclusion that freedom is not going to be delivered to us by electing the “right people.” It has to be ground-up education, and a changing of the mindset of the man on the street. Witness Ron Paul. He’s educating people. Witness Lew Rockwell. His site is educating people.

          1. The best thing Lew Rockwell’s website every published.

            1. So we can all look like that douche? GFY Jeffrey Tucker.

            2. A very fine article, but I don’t understand the aversion to black suits and slacks. I tend to wear dark shirts, which are hard to match with blue, grey, or khaki pants. Also, the way he fits his shirts means they’re probably too baggy. I fit my shirts to the shoulder and waist, not the sleeve or neck. Nothing looks worse than a droopy dress shirt that opens into a sail at the chest and closes tightly at the waist. We’re not pirates, at least not yet. Slim fit shirts are a nice development, as are windowpane patterns.

              He didn’t mention sweaters either. My breakdown is four pullovers and two cardigans. I wear the sweater to the tie.

              Thrifting for men’s clothing is difficult. I’ve found a great tuxedo shirt, but otherwise struck out.

              1. I tend to wear dark shirts, which are hard to match with blue, grey, or khaki pants.

                Eh? I find khaki works well with dark shirts, at least for casual wear (I don’t give two shits about formal wear; I avoid it whenever possible).

                1. I guess my favorite khaki’s are lighter. When paired with a dark brown or green shirt, my outfit ends up looking unbalanced, especially if I wear a tie. Polos are a little different; I’ve got some HM ones that are pretty bright, which work a lot better. But earth tones sometimes contrast a bit much. Dark khakis work well, but my dark pair flares a lot and really isn’t suitable for tucking in.

                  Agreed on formal wear. I have one or two outfits, and hit them again and again.

                  1. See, adding a tie automatically makes it “formal wear” to me. I usually wear a plain t-shirt, maybe with a pocket, or a polo t-shirt.

    2. The problem with your scenario is this: anyone who sends their kid(s) to a private school and chooses a libertarian education has already done the lion’s share of the legwork by raising the kid in a libertarian home. What you want is to convert teenage conservatives and liberals before they have hardened their hearts. That requires infiltrating government schools. Which means you need an army of libertarians willing to work in those schools.

    3. Why not join one of the programs at the Mises Institute, FEE or the Independent Institute?

      BTW, a libertarian school did exist, it was called Rampart College.

    4. There’s a Montessori one in north Houston.

  7. What was the knife wielding guy thinking though? Did he want to be shot? Foolish man.

    1. He probably thought, “the cops won’t shoot a guy in broad daylight with a ton of witnesses who’s just smoking a j.”

  8. Makes a lot of sense tro me dudde.


  9. The argument makes sense if not for that pesky part where the perp responds to a likely misdemeanor/violation arrest by whipping out a kitchen knife and getting all wavey-wavey with it in midtown Manhattan. This wasn’t a case of a SWAT team charging in half-assed and raiding the wrong apartment.

    That jumping ugly with the cops is a poor reaction to the situation would be intuitively obvious to the casual observer, but the 11 prior convictions tells me he still wasn’t clear on the concept.

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