MANHATTAN (CN) – New York’s first police-involved shooting case handled by a special prosecutor ended in an acquittal Monday for the officer who was accused of fatal road rage.
The family of Delrawn Small, a 37-year-old who was shot to death while driving home from a barbecue on the Fourth of July last year, said they were “devastated” by the acquittal.
“Nothing can bring Delrawn back or fill the void in our hearts and lives from our brother being taken from us by this senseless murder,” siblings Victor Dempsey and Victoria Davis said in a statement.
“We are devastated and outraged that the jury failed to ensure justice by not holding NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs accountable for murdering our brother,” they added.
Isaacs had just completed an eight-hour tour at the 79th Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant when he crossed paths with the unarmed Small in Brooklyn at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Bradford Street.
Prosecutors say Small got out of his car and approached Isaacs because the off-duty officer had cut him off on the road.
Surveillance cameras captured the officer shooting Small three times, but Isaacs insists that Small assaulted him first and that he acted in self-defense.
Small’s siblings said that Isaacs had other options to deescalate the situation rather than take their brother’s life.
“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,” Dempsey and Davis said. “It is dangerous that once again a police officer is being treated as if they are above the law.”
Small’s death inspired the first prosecution of an NYPD officer by a team of special prosecutors organized to handle reported cases of police brutality.
“We are disappointed by the verdict, but we respect the jury’s determination and thank them for their service,” New York 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.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tapped Schneiderman for the role of special prosecutor two years ago in the backdrop of massive demonstration by the Black Lives Matter movement.
Schneiderman added that today’s defeat will not keep his office from bringing such cases in the future.
“My office will continue to investigate these cases without fear or favor and follow the facts wherever they may lead,” he added.
Defense attorney Stephen Worth did not respond to phone and email requests for comment.