Police Officer Robert H. Torsney was found not guilty by reason of insanity yesterday in the shooting death of 15-year-old Randolph Evans in Brooklyn on Thanksgiving day last year.
The shooting of the youth, who was black, and Officer Torsney, who is white, led to racial disturbances in the East New York section of Brooklyn.
Justice Barshay, before asking for the verdict, cautioned the spectators against demonstrations of any kind, but just after the verdict was read, as Torsney was led out in handcuffs, a spectator called out: “You’d better commit suicide.”
“It’s a racist system and society and this trial was a subterfuge from beginning to end,” she said.
The shooting took place shortly before midnight, when Torsney and his partner answered a radio report of an armed man at 515 Fountain Avenue, in an East New York housing development where young Evans lived with his family. AS the policemen left the building, Torsney was approaced by the boy and five others. Young Evans paused to speak to Torsney who pulled a gun from his holster and shot the boy in the head.
Torsney said he had seen the boy reach into his waistband for what appeared to be a gun but none was found and none was seen by witnesses.
“If there was no gun, this man is sick.” Said the prosecutor during summation.
The 32-year-old policeman had a record of previous epileptic attacks, said psychiatrists for both sides, he tended to panic in stressful situations, suffered from an unhappy childhood, and tended to hang back on police assignments. He had never before used his gun in his eight years on the police force.
Simpleton’s face. Dimwitted cop. Sad eyes.
NYT Dunning 12/1/77