As we mark the 25th anniversary of the tragic death of Amadou Diallo, our hearts are once again with his family and all those who have been affected by similar injustices. Amadou, an unarmed 23-year-old immigrant from Guinea, was killed on February 4, 1999, by plainclothes officers of the New York City Police Department’s Street Crime Unit. The loss of Amadou under a hail of 41 bullets, based on a grievous misjudgment, is a moment that remains etched in the memory of our city and our nation.
Our firm had the solemn privilege of representing Amadou’s family in their quest for justice and accountability. Although no legal outcome could ever compensate for the loss of a loved one, the $3 million settlement reached with the City of New York in March 2004 was a recognition of the profound wrongness of the actions that led to Amadou’s death. It was one of the largest settlements of its kind under New York State’s “wrongful death law”, highlighting the gravity of the negligence, wrongful death, racial profiling, and violations of civil rights that occurred.
The acquittal of the officers involved did not deter us from our pursuit of justice, nor did it silence the voices demanding change. Instead, it galvanized a movement towards police reform and accountability that continues to this day. The disbandment of the Street Crime Unit in 2002 and the ongoing calls for transparency and fairness in policing are testaments to the enduring impact of Amadou’s story.
Yesterday, Amadou’s mother, Kadiatou Diallo, stood with other mothers who have faced the unimaginable grief of losing their sons to police violence. Together with Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, and many others, they remind us that the fight for justice is far from over.
The passage of the How Many Stops Act is a step forward in increasing transparency and accountability in policing. Yet, as we remember Amadou and honor his memory, we recognize that much work remains to be done. Our firm remains committed to standing with those who seek justice and to ensuring that the legal system serves as a force for good, upholding the rights and dignity of all individuals.
Amadou Diallo’s dreams were cut short, but his legacy endures. In his memory, and in the memory of all those unjustly taken from us, we reaffirm our commitment to justice, to reform, and to a future where such tragedies are no longer a reality. We pledge to continue our work, inspired by Amadou’s memory and driven by the belief that justice and change are possible. Together, we can build a more just and compassionate world.