On February 4th, 1999, 23-year old Amadou Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea to the United States, was shot 41 times by 4 plainclothes New York police officers in the doorway of his own apartment. The officers claimed they suspected Diallo was a serial rapist in the area, who had attempted to rape 29 victims. Claiming they identified themselves as police officers to Diallo and ordered him to show his hands, the officers opened fire when Diallo pulled out a small wallet from his pocket, mistaking it for a gun. Diallo, who was completely unarmed, was hit and consequently killed by 19 of the bullets.
Neighbors described Diallo as a shy, hard-working man, and a devout Muslim. He worked as a street peddler in Manhattan and sent much of the money he earned back home to his parents. He had no criminal record whatsoever, and had aspirations of attending college to become a computer programmer. At the time of his death, Diallo had saved $9,000 to attend school, his last words to his mother, Kadi Diallo, being, “Mom, I’m going to college.”
Diallo’s killing sparked outrage throughout New York and the entire country, with issues of racial profiling and police brutality being protested heavily. A Bronx grand jury indicted all four officers involved for second-degree murder and reckless endangerment. On February 25th, 2000, an Albany jury acquitted all four officers: Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon and Kenneth Boss, of their crimes, sparking widespread outrage with the controversial decision. Diallo’s family eventually filed a wrongful death lawsuit, settling with the city for $3,000,000. Though they were awarded a large sum, the officers responsible for the death of Diallo continued to work and live as police officers, never receiving consequence for Diallo’s killing.
In 2005, Diallo’s family used part of their settlement money to create the Amadou Diallo Foundation and scholarship fund. The foundation supports African immigrants to help further their education. Though Diallo never got to realize his dream of going to college, the foundation his family created in his name works to give many people a chance to realize their dreams of education.