Armed off-duty NYPD officer acquitted of killing man
NYPD Officer Wayne Isaacs pulled a collective 33 pounds of pressure onto the trigger of his off-duty Glock 9mm, firing three bullets that left Delrawn Small face down on Atlantic Avenue. As Small’s life leaked out of him in blood and gags, Isaacs called 911 immediately — to report that he had been assaulted.
A Brooklyn Supreme Court jury decided Monday that the off-duty NYPD officer was justified in killing the unarmed man in East New York in a July 4, 2016 self-defense traffic dispute, dealing a not guilty verdict of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.
The courtroom erupted into screams and expletives as the jury announced that Isaacs, 38, was not guilty on both counts.
“You’re f—–g kidding me!?” Hawk Newsome, president of New York Black Lives Matter screamed. “The whole damn system is corrupt!”
Isaacs showed little reaction upon hearing the verdict, but hugged his wife as soon as the case finished.
While Newsome and the victim’s family members screamed in the court hallway, court officers formed a wall in front of the courtroom doors as Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association representatives high-fived each other.
Assemblymember Charles Barron held his arm around Small’s brother, Victor Dempsey, while all other family members filled the halls with their wails.
Dempsey’s red eyes stared unwaveringly at Isaacs in the courtroom.
“You know what the f—k you did!” Dempsey screamed and pointed to Isaacs, prompting the officer to sit back down in a nearby pew.
Supreme Court Justice Alexander Jeong addressed Isaacs before he left the courtroom.
“Only you know what exactly happened that day so, no one’s passing any judgement. And let’s try to hope that we have no further incidents like this in the future,” Jeong said.
The verdict marked a defeat for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Attorney General’s Office, as Isaacs was the first officer prosecuted by the AG’s Office since a 2015 executive order was passed that directs cases of police shooting unarmed men to the AG’s Office.
“We are disappointed by the verdict, but we respect the jury’s determination and thank them for their service,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “My office will continue to investigate these cases without fear or favor and follow the facts wherever they may lead.”
While the two-week trial was contingent on whether Isaacs was acting in self-defense, the jury found that the unarmed Small, 37, did pose a deadly threat to the NYPD officer of 3 1/2 years.
“Officer Isaacs did nothing wrong and he deserved to be found not guilty,” defense attorney Stephen Worth said. “He defended himself as anyone in his situation would.”
The defense team attacked Small during the trial, calling him an “irate drunk” and “sociopathic,” signaling tears and scoffs from Small’s family, who attended every court date.
“If you look at the video, as we all have, there were literally seconds, three or four seconds from the time that the deceased starts to attack him from when the weapon is discharged,” Worth said.
Surveillance footage at a red light on Atlantic Avenue and Bradford Street shows Isaacs’ muzzle flashes seconds after Small gets to the driver-side window, despite the officer’s testimony that Small lunged at him with a punch.
“Wayne Isaacs went home to his family and he killed someone. Delrawn didn’t kill anyone,” Victoria Davis, Small’s sister, said. “Delrawn will never come home to us. This is the worst day of my whole life.”
Isaacs’ $500,000 bail was exonerated and he is still suspended from the force with pay until further notice.
Isaacs swiftly walked out of the courthouse surrounded by fellow police officers, while the prosecutors on the case stood in the court hall with red eyes.
For Small and his family, the day began at a friend’s barbecue on Williams Street in East New York. As Small’s blood-alcohol level rose to .09, slightly over the .08 legal limit, his girlfriend Zaquanna Albert urged him to leave the gathering so she could finish her graduate school paper.
As Small, his 14-year-old stepdaughter, 3-month-old son and Albert got into a friend’s car to make the roughly 15-minute drive home, Isaacs was clocking out of his 3 p.m. to 11:35 p.m. shift in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s 79th Precinct.
Isaacs, a former Guyanese corporal who immigrated to Brooklyn in 2007, testified that he was headed to another barbecue in Queens. While on his way, allegedly cut Small off in traffic on Atlantic Avenue, according to Albert.
Isaacs disputed that he cut off Small.
“What the f—k?!” Albert and Small allegedly yelled to each other before they pulled up to a red light.
“He took off his seatbelt and he got out. I told him not to get out,” Albert said of Small, who got out and headed to Isaacs’ car two lanes away.
Once Isaacs spotted Small crossing traffic, he unbuttoned his holster, rolled down his driver window and waited with his gun in hand.
Isaacs’ recollected his thoughts: “At this point, I’m thinking, ‘Maybe somebody recognized me from a previous arrest. Was I gonna be carjacked?’”
As Small approached the window, flashes from Isaacs’ gun lit the scene.
Isaacs testified that Small yelled, “I’m gonna f—–g kill you!” as he approached the car.
As three bullets hit Small’s body, fracturing bones and piercing a lung and aorta, he fell face down on the pavement. Within 10 minutes, he was dead.
“I was just screaming,” Albert said. “When I seen [sic] the blood, I knew he was shot.”
With a quick assessment of the body, Isaacs called 911 to report he needed an ambulance for an assault, neglecting to mention he fired his weapon and Small was dying on the street.
Small’s stepdaughter was simultaneously shrieking into another 911 operator’s ears.
“He tried to shoot my stepfather!” the girl shouted into the phone as her mother’s screams filled the background of Isaacs’ call.
“Oh my god! What did you do?!” Albert can be heard yelling in the call. “I seen [sic] Wayne Isaacs standing right by his car. I shouted at him, ‘Why did you shoot?!’”
With Small dead before the paramedics got to the scene, Isaacs was taken by ambulance to Jamaica Hospital.
Dr. Nagaraj Rao testified that the cop received swelling to his right cheek and a cut to his inner lip. He was prescribed Motrin.
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