Category Archive 'Autobiography'

07 Oct 2018

An Interesting Anniverary

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My 1983 arrest photo, taken at 4 in the morning. I look tired and disgruntled.

I’m a Baby Boomer and consequently, at this point, a geezer. My original Yale class arrived with short hair, wearing jackets and ties, at a non-coeducated Yale featuring strict parietal hours (meaning no girls in your room after 10 PM). I was, by the merest of accidents, at Woodstock.

I am going to confess, reluctantly, that I very recently turned 70. 35 years ago today, when I was 35-years-old, half a lifetime ago, I made a citizen’s arrest in New York City which involved reducing the culprit to possession by shooting him in the leg, causing me to be arrested, thrown into the NYC jail system, and charged with First Degree Armed Assault, plus some firearm possession charges (which –oddly enough– were never really discussed as the whole thing proceeded).

My shooting incident occurred a year earlier than the famous Bernhard Goetz Subway Shooting. I could easily have been what Bernhard Goetz became: a nationally-famous test case involving the private use of force against the then-epidemic minority violence terrorizing New York City.

I was, of course, smarter than Goetz. I used the threat of publicity to persuade the Manhattan DA’s office to back down and actually follow the law. Publicity was not in their interest. And it was not in my interest. Had the story broken, no doubt they would not have backed down, the Grand Jury would have indicted me, and I’d have been convicted, gotten a criminal record, and served time for something.

I saved the local CT newspaper article, some of the legal correspondence, and other material related to the event in a scrapbook at the time, and a few years ago, scanned the most interesting bits into my computer.

If anyone wants to read the story of all this, here it is: Shooting a Rapist.


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