Senseless Killing of an Unarmed Man in El Barrio
Text and Photo by Ismael Nunez
Friends and family of an unarmed man killed in late October in a road rage incident involving an off-duty police officer are demanding justice. Even the Reverend Al Sharpton has come out in support of Jayson Tirado's family.
Tirado's relatives and friends have questioned why Officer Sean Sawyer was not immediately arrested when he turned himself in after the shooting on Oct. 22. Sawyer has been suspended without pay and is out free, while a grand jury investigates possible charges.
Tirado apparently refused to let the officer's SUV merge with traffic onto an exit ramp in East Harlem. He also apparently gestured at the off-duty officer as if he had a gun.
But Tirado of the Lower East Side didn't have a gun.
And, he was killed anyway. He was only 25.
Elected officials and Tirado's friends and family have voiced their anger of the NYPD's handling of this case. Who wouldn't be angry? There is a little girl without a dad.
According to Sawyer, a born again Christian, he fired because he thought his life was in danger. He then fled the scene because he panicked. Many in the victim's family and Rev. Sharpton, wonder why officer Sawyer was not arrested for leaving the scene of the shooting for 19 hours. Sawyer has said he did not believe that the shots he fired hit anyone.
Charlie King, attorney who was representing the National Action Network, said: “It’s always the same thing we hear from the NYPD when they shoot at unarmed civilians. It’s always a claim of self-defense...How can you make a claim of self-defense when there is no weapon around?"
How can you?
Ismael Nunez is a freelance writer based in El Barrio who contributes his writings to Puerto Rico Sun.