Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Justice for the Tirado Family?

Jayson Tirado (NYTimes)
Unfortunately, the way things are going right now, it seems as if that may never happen. I am returning from a sabbatical from the blog (intended to focus on midterms) with the outrageous story of Sean Sawyer, an undercover narcotics officer for the NYPD in Queens. Sawyer, 34, was involved in a road rage incident with Jayson Tirado, 25, and ended up shooting Tirado three times with his off-duty gun as the two argued in East Harlem. The two sides are actually telling the same story, that as the argument, which lasted more than 5 blocks, got more heated between the two, Tirado is said to have pointed his finger at Sawyer and made an allusion to a firearm. Sawyer felt this was enough to shoot Tirado and leave the scene - for 24 hours. That's right, trained NYPD cop Sean Sawyer left the scene of a shooting that he committed for almost 24 hours before turning himself in to police early Monday morning. If it was a "justified" shooting, then why flee the scene? Sawyer does not seem to want to share that information with cops, nor will he say what he was doing between 7 PM - when he got off of his shift for the po - and 5:30 AM, when the shooting took place. It seems that the two were forced to exit the FDR due to an earlier motorcycle accident and that is when Sawyer tried to merge in front of Tirado. Tirado would not allow him to and this pissed him off. He exchanged words with Tirado and then sped off. It appears he said to the occupants of Tirado's car, "I'm going to have to cap one of you niggas." Tirado, apparently pissed off too, caught back up to Sawyer, pulled in front of him and stopped. That's when this whole business of Tirado's threat was said to happen. Then Sawyer blasted off three rounds into the car without identifying himself as NYPD, fatally hitting Tirado, and sped off, ran a red light and disappeared for 24 hours before turning himself in.

Sean Sawyer (NY Daily News)
There are two witnesses from the car, but one remembers nothing because he apparently had blacked out from alcohol. The other one, though, is the one providing the story (including Tirado's Ruger threat, which seems to have gotten him killed.)  I would be hesitant to believe anything that Sawyer says, as he disappeared for 24 hours before turning himself in, thus had plenty of time to consult people (the Times says "reaching out to people") and potentially get a good story going. After being questioned for a few hours, Sawyer was allowed to leave the 25th Precinct stationhouse. So let's go over the questions we need answered: Why did Sawyer hide out for 24 hours before turning himself in? What was he doing out so late at night getting into arguments with random drivers? Was he drunk? (that will never be answered, even after he turned himself in he was not administered a breathalyzer, standard NYPD procedure after a shooting). Would Tirado be given the same presumption of innocence/ridiculously lenient treatment if he had been the shooter of Sawyer under the same circumstances?

So, why did Sawyer hide out for 24 hours? I would guess he was intoxicated at the time of the shooting and needed to sober up before turning himself in, but that is simply speculation. Either way you cut it, however, it is a stupid thing to do, as any person in this country has an obligation to call the police when they have shot someone. Inexcusable, especially for a cop. Why did Sawyer even say anything to Tirado after not being allowed to merge? A great quote from a friend of mine's father is applicable here: "Nothing good happens after midnight." This fits in here because it's 5:30 AM in East Harlem, why are you stirring the shit with someone you have never seen before in your life? This, again, would point to one being drunk, but that is speculation.

Jayson Tirado's car near the scene of the shooting
Now, let's look at the situation if it were reversed. Let's say Tirado is the triggerman, after having started the whole incident like Sawyer did, and he does not turn himself in until 24 hours later. He would be roasted in the press, Trump may be calling for the death penalty, Ray Kelly would stand stone-faced in front of a mic for a press conference and denounce Tirado, and certainly, under no circumstances, would he be allowed to leave the stationhouse after questioning and would be arrested immediately. No way would he be handled with kid gloves like Sawyer has been. Let's face it: Sawyer was off-duty in his personal vehicle. He was a citizen at the time, not a cop on duty. He is soiling the badge, as it puts all police officers (even the good ones) in a bad light when something like this happens and they are not punished like a regular person in society would be. If I were a cop, I would not only be upset by Sawyer's actions, but by the response of the police and the DA's office in this case, who are rumored to be pondering whether or not to press charges. As if it were a question.

In fact, the DA is leaning in the direction of the shooting being justified. Cops should not be given this much leeway in the justice system. It has been confirmed that Sawyer was the one who threatened violence first, saying that he was going to "cap one of you niggas" to the occupants in Tirado's Honda. Now if Tirado had shot Sawyer out of self-defense after being threatened to be shot, I doubt that he would be out on the streets right now like Sawyer is.

Sawyer has his defenders, namely his brother, who exclaims to the press that it was a "clean shoot. He did what the city hired him for. You do not reach down into a car on a New York City police officer." 1) His brother was not even there, so how does he know it was a "clean shoot," and 2) citizens should be allowed to put their hands wherever they want to in their car without fear of being shot to death. He did what the city hired him to do? The city hired him to kill an unarmed person in a road rage incident? I hope not. It is an absolute travesty if the Manhattan DA's office does not look into this matter with the utmost scrutiny, as it is clear that Sawyer committed a grave crime here and should not be let off the hook simply because he is a cop.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    Great blog you have here and such a good write-up of Jay's case.

    I was with him the night he was murdered by Sean Sawyer; in fact I was in the carivan of cars traveling with him after we started heading back to the Lower East Side for breakfast.

    I saw him in his driver seat and witnessed him taking his last breaths and let me say there is not one day that goes by that I dont see his face in my head.

    Today is the one month anniversary of Jay's death and I am looking forward for a get together later on. Last night I went out to 120th to light up candles for the gent. That was one great guy.

    Anyway - have you taken a read here:

    Looks like Sean Sawyer the clean-shooting born-again christian was banging some broad from the Queens D.A. and was drinking with her the night he murdered Jayson Tirado.


    Looking forward to seeing your thoughts on it.