Saturday, July 12, 2008

No Justice for Jayson Tirado

Following up on a story that I have discussed in the past, it appears that the NYPD officer who shot and killed an unarmed motorist in East Harlem back in October of 2007, then disappeared for 19 hours before turning himself in, will not face any criminal charges for his actions. As a quick refresher, Jayson Tirado and Sean Sawyer were driving on FDR Drive when they were diverted to East 116th street due to an accident on the highway. In the course of exiting the highway, Mr. Tirado cut off Sean Sawyer, at which point words were exchanged. They continued driving and caught up to each other at a red light, when more words were exchanged and Mr. Tirado allegedly made a reference to a gun. At this point - and this is where most of the contention in this case lies - Sawyer says that Tirado reached for something on the floor of his car and came up as if he had a gun. It is at this point that Sawyer fired two shots and sped away from the scene. Tirado was able to drive a few blocks before slumping over the steering wheel, dead. Sawyer was MIA until 19 hours later, when he decided to turn himself in. Both parties had been drinking that night.

So rack this up as another killing of an unarmed minority at the hands of the NYPD; a killing that will go unpunished. Civil rights charges will not be brought against Sawyer (nor should they be) because the man was acting as a civilian and was not in the course of his duties as a civil servant. But let's look at the most glaring facts of this case: Sawyer shot twice at a car in the middle of East Harlem and did not report the incident until 19 HOURS later, when he walked to a police station and told a sergeant about what had happened. Sawyer claimed that he did not even know anyone was hit and once he realized someone had been killed, he turned himself in. Does this mean that if he did not hit anyone that he never would have alerted his superiors of his actions?

Manhattan DA Morgenthau has said that Sawyer did not receive preferential treatment because of his status as a cop. So if I thought that someone were pulling a weapon on me, I could shoot and kill that person and wait almost an entire day before getting around to reporting it and I would not be charged with a crime? Something about that seems a bit odd. Additionally, if Sawyer was able to see Tirado place his hands in the car and come up as if he had a gun, wouldn't Sawyer be able to see if Tirado actually had a gun? It seems that Sawyer saw and heard a great amount in detail up until the critical moment of identifying a weapon.

Other points of Sawyer's story seem suspect. Sawyer says that he was cut off by Tirado and that Tirado started an argument with Sawyer. That doesn't even make sense. You mean to tell me that Tirado cut off Sawyer and Sawyer did absolutely nothing and Tirado then berated Sawyer for allowing him to cut Sawyer off? That just doesn't add up. Let's not forget that by fleeing the scene of the "crime" Sawyer did not have to take a Breathalyzer test. Various news outlets have reported that Sawyer was out at a Woodside bar for a good amount of time before killing Tirado, who had also been drinking.

Going back to the basics of this story: a cop killed an unarmed minority in New York City and will face no legal repercussions (yet again). Sawyer will most likely lose his job, but he has been suspended WITH PAY since the incident, so he has had plenty of time to get his act together to find new employment. If the roles were reversed and Tirado had shot Sawyer thinking that Sawyer had a gun, do you think that Tirado would walk away from a grand jury as a free man? I will end this post with two quotes. The first is part of a Big L verse that has more relevance of late: "One [cop] murdered my man like it was OK / For the life he ended, he got suspended with no pay / But if a man woulda took the cop life, he woulda got life / And never again see the street lights and that's trife." The final quote is from Tirado's fiancee's lawyer: "He [Sawyer] didn't even get ticketed for littering for leaving Jayson Tirado's body on the street!" Peace.

Photos - Sean Sawyer (, Jayson Tirado and his daughter (, Officers inspecting Tirado's car following the early morning shooting (


  1. I know it shouldn't come as a surprise but every time the judicial system fails us, it's a stab in the heart! We read about all the injustices that occur and have become desensitized to them but when it happens to someone you actually know (or shall I say knew), it's a feeling that cannot be truly expressed. May Jayson RIP... and justice be served some day....

  2. That's a good point. De-sensatization from countless media stories of violence and crime is an issue, and no one quite understands the gravity of a violent situation such as this until it hits a little closer to home.

    I am sorry for your loss and I hope that one day justice is achieved for Jayson and all others who fall victim to senseless acts of violence such as this.

  3. This was undoubtedly a senseless shooting by an undercover member of the NYPD. But I question your characterizing it as a "hate crime against minorities" when the policeman himself was black.

    I can understand why an officer would fire at someone who seemed to be reaching for a gun. But I can't find any justification for the way Sawyer approached the car, head on, failed to identify himself and morphed from a possible assailant to an officer in jeopardy the moment his own life was threatened.

  4. The race of the officer isn't relevant, since the police are all blue. I still remember this years later, and like other people have said, could I as a civilian get away with everything Officer Sawyer did? Obviously not. The DA enables the NYPD to kill anyone they want, at any time, whether or not they have a weapon. If an NYPD officer feels threatened they can just kill someone and walk away, free and clear. And should you wonder if I'm a bitter minority with a grudge, well, how about middle class white living in CT that values life, and can't stand a lot of the violent and brutal crap the NYPD gets away with - a list way too long for this post...

  5. Tio i miss u and think of u every day of my life now im 22 years old i kno u would of been proud of me
    im becoming a cop i past my test wit a 85.t
    i will get justice for us i will reopen this case i will make something happe no matter what i have to face. I will not let anything get in my way.
    I was only 13 only got to meet u once because of this bs foster care system. Some people wont understandin the feeling of loosing some one as special and close like u. U promise to take me out the nex day n promise u pick me up. I wome up the following morning n turnt on the news on channel 1 n seen that u have been killed my heart droped my tears came down n mind wen crazy i was supposed to get one more chance to see u n thwy took that away from me. Im writing this now n my tears r coming down alot.
    its ur b day tomorrow n i miss u. He should b punish for what he did to you. And he will be i promise you.