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Bernie Goetz A Thug Dubbed Vigilante Who Shot 4 Unarmed Black Teens
On December 22, 1984, four African-Americans (Barry Allen, Troy Canty, Darrell Cabey, and James Ramseur) were shot and wounded by Bernhard Goetz on a New York City Subway train in Manhattan.
Goetz surrendered to police nine days later and was charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, and several firearms offenses. Initial support and public opinion turned against Goetz due to racist statements and damaging details of the incident that later surfaced. Despite this, a jury found him not guilty of all charges except for one count of carrying an unlicensed firearm, for which he served eight months of a one-year sentence. In 1996, Cabey, who had been left paraplegic and brain damaged as a result of his injuries, obtained a civil judgment of $43 million against Goetz.
The incident sparked a nationwide debate on race and crime in major cities, the legal limits of self-defense, and the extent to which the citizenry could rely on the police to secure their safety. Goetz, dubbed the "Subway Vigilante" by the New York press, came to symbolize New Yorkers' frustrations with the high crime rates of the 1980s. He was both praised and vilified in the media and public opinion. The incident has also been cited as a contributing factor to the groundswell movement against urban crime and disorder, and the successful National Rifle Association campaigns to loosen restrictions on the concealed carrying of firearms.