December 22, 1984, Bernard Goetz, otherwise known as the "subway
four young men in a Manhattan subway car after he said the men threatened
him and tried to rob him.
The shooting became a national sensation, as many subway riders,
concerned about subway muggings, applauded Goetz's actions. But
others criticized Goetz as a racist because the four young men were
Three years after the shooting, Goetz, a 39-year-old electronics
specialist, was acquitted of attempted murder and assault, but was
convicted of criminal possession of an unlicensed weapon and spent
250 days in jail.
Goetz said he started firing because he thought the four men were
about to rob him. Many suspected however, that Goetz acted as an
"avenging angel" because he had been mugged twice before. The youths
said they were panhandling money to play video games when they asked
him for $5, not trying to rob him.
of the four men, Darrell Cabey, was paralyzed in the shooting. In
reaction to a $50 million lawauit filed by Cabey's
familiy, Goetz said in a December 20, 1994 Toronto Star article,
"If you're injured, paralyzed or whatever while committing
crime against me, that's not my fault."
the verdict, Goetz' lawyer Barry Slotnick said, "I think the true
message is that people have a right to protect and defend themselves
under justifiable situations." Goetz said he wants to "go back to
being an anonymous stranger in New York," said Slotnick in a June
17, 1987 Toronto Star article.
Supporters and critics argued outside the courthouse immediately
after the verdict. Anti-Goetz demonstrators chased his car, shouting,
"Goetz is an oppressor, murder no more." Another man carried a sign,
"Criminals, think twice or we will Goetz you."