New York's 'Subway Vigilante' won't face marijuana charges

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 10, 2014 2:02 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City's "Subway Vigilante," who made headlines in the 1980s for shooting four teenagers on a train, has had charges dismissed in a recent marijuana-dealing case, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Bernhard Goetz, 66, was arrested in December for allegedly selling a small amount of pot to an undercover police officer in Manhattan's Union Square Park.

A Civil Court judge dismissed the misdemeanor charges on grounds that prosecutors missed the deadline to pursue a trial.

Goetz had rejected a plea deal that would have required him to serve 10 days of community service, a Manhattan District Attorney's office spokeswoman said.

In 1984, Goetz, a white man, opened fire with an unlicensed gun on a group of black teenagers who he said were trying to rob him.

The youths, all of whom had arrest records and three of whom were carrying screwdrivers, said they were panhandling.

At a time when New York City's crime rate was high, the "Subway Vigilante" case raised issues of race relations and sparked a fierce debate about what steps victims and frustrated New Yorkers could take to fight back against perceived threats.

Goetz was acquitted of attempted murder and assault but convicted of illegal gun possession. He served eight months in jail.

One of the teens was left permanently wounded and won a $43 million civil suit against Goetz in 1997.

Goetz's attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and David Gregorio)