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No Jail Time For NYPD Officer Convicted In Zongo Shooting

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TWC News: No Jail Time For NYPD Officer Convicted In Zongo Shooting
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Police Officer Bryan Conroy was sentenced to five years probation and no jail time Friday in the shooting death of Ousmane Zongo during a raid in a Chelsea warehouse over two years ago.

The probation also includes 500 hours of community service within the first two years.

Just before the sentencing Conroy, with tears in his eyes, asked that the judge allow him to stay with his wife and 5-month-old son. He added his dreams of being a police officer were over.

Judge Robert Straus agreed, saying jail time was not appropriate in the case.

Conroy’s attorney said his client’s sentence was pretty much the best they could hope for.

“We are certainly gratified by the no jail sentence in this case,” said Stuart London. “Officer Conroy has gone through 30 months of absolute torture.”

The family of the victim, Ousmane Zongo said the sentence was a travesty of justice.

“The policeman killed my nephew, and they convict him and he's going free,” Mohamed Dibassy, Zongo’s uncle, said through a translator. “He didn't have no jail term, so for me, that's not right."

Conroy was undercover disguised as a postal worker when he fatally shot Zongo at Chelsea Mini-Storage in May 2003. Police were looking for pirated CDs and DVDs at the time.

Zongo was leaving his storage space, where he worked as an art repairman, when he was fatally shot. Zongo was not a suspect in the counterfeit raid, but Conroy says the repairman lunged at him and tried to take his gun.

The prosecution argued Conroy was reckless and the shooting was unjustified.

Conroy was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide on October 21 following a non-jury retrial, but acquitted on the more serious manslaughter charge.

Conroy's first trial ended with a hung jury, but in the retrial he opted for a judge to rule on the case.

The prosecution said Conroy was reckless and aggressive, but Conroy's attorneys said Zongo went for Conroy's gun and there was a life or death struggle.

“Officer Conroy, at the time in question, felt his actions were justified. The court disagreed,” said London.

Judge Straus gave a long explanation of his reasoning behind the sentence, and though he didn't sentence Conroy to jail time, he basically agreed with the prosecution. He said he didn't believe that Conroy's badge was clearly visible identifying him as a police officer, and said he didn't believe Conroy's explanation that Zongo lunged for his gun.

He said, “It seems to me that if Zongo approached Conroy with his hands exposed...it was because Conroy ordered him to."

The judge also extensively criticized Conroy's training, saying the raid Conroy was participating in was marked by "utter confusion and lack of leadership on almost every level."

Conroy's conviction could have resulted in up to four years of jail time.

The Police Department issued a statement in response to the sentence that says, “With the Zongo trial and sentencing at an end, the Police Department's Internal Affairs Bureau today resumed its investigation of the incident to determine whether there were supervisory lapses in the case."

The NYPD says changes have already been made to how raids are authorized. Procedures are also being reviewed for officers that wear civilian clothes while on the job.
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