Subway vigilante Bernie Goetz nabbed in drug sting
NEW YORK — Subway vigilante Bernie Goetz, who ignited a national furor over racism and gun control after he shot four panhandling youths on a train in the 1980s, has been charged with misdemeanor sale and possession of marijuana, authorities said Saturday.
Goetz was nabbed in a sting operation in Union Square park on Friday evening for selling $30 worth of pot to an undercover officer, police said. He asked the woman if she wanted to get high, then went back to his apartment, where he has lived for decades, and returned with marijuana, authorities said. He was arrested on charges of criminal sale of marijuana.
Goetz wasn't being targeted specifically; he just happened to cross paths with the undercover officer assigned to crack down on drug dealing in the park, authorities said.
The 65-year-old was arraigned Saturday in Manhattan Criminal Court on three misdemeanor drug charges for sale and possession of marijuana. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court next month. His lawyer couldn't be reached for comment.
Goetz became a household name as the skinny, bespectacled white man who, on Dec. 22, 1984, rose from his seat on the No. 2 train in Manhattan and shot four black teens inside a subway car with an illegal handgun. The teens had sharpened screwdrivers and were asking him for $5. Goetz said it was self-defense and the youths intended to rob him.
The shooting brought to the surface long-smoldering urban issues of race, crime and quality of life. It thrust Goetz, a self-employed electronics expert, into the role of spokesman for what some New Yorkers considered a justified form of vigilantism.
It was a vastly different era. Subway cars were spray-painted with graffiti tags and inhabited by muggers, panhandlers, junkies and the homeless. And crime was out of control — there were about 40 felonies per day in the nation's largest mass transit system. Last year, there were about eight per day, and the figure is declining.
Goetz was cleared of attempted murder charges in 1987 and spent 250 days in jail the same year for a weapons conviction in the case.
In 1996, a Bronx jury awarded one of the teens, Darrell Cabey, $43 million in his lawsuit against Goetz. Cabey's attorney, Ron Kuby, said Saturday his client remains paralyzed in a wheelchair and has never received a penny from Goetz, who had declared bankruptcy.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Philadelphia Mafia figure returned to prison for meeting friend
- Seattle area school homecoming ‘prince’ guns down classmates
- 2 California deputies slain, suspect captured
- Washington city takes stock of damage from rare tornado
- Lawyer turns down AG post
- Hatchet attack was terror, NYPD says
- New York, New Jersey order 21-day quarantine of all in contact with Ebola virus
- Warhol bodyguard sued over hidden artwork
- Vehicle smashes Commandments on capitol grounds in Oklahoma City
- 1686 shipwreck ‘like dinosaur’ being rebuilt for museum
- U.S. rules out apology to Pyongyang in exchange for 2 imprisoned Americans