Thursday, September 15, 2005

Judge recuses himself from Busch cop misconduct retrial

A Brooklyn federal judge Wednesday agreed to step aside and not preside over the retrial of the lawsuit filed by the family of a hammer-wielding Borough Park man shot dead by police in August 1999.

Judge Sterling Johnson said he would recuse himself from rehearing the police misconduct lawsuit filed by the family of Gidone Busch against the city out of an "abudance of caution" because he has questioned the credibility of some of the officers involved in the case.

A federal jury had cleared the city and five officers of liability for the shooting death of Busch on Aug. 30, 1999. Busch was killed in a fusillade after he allegedly menaced cops by brandishing a hammer.

But in September 2004 Johnson granted the Busch family a new trial after he raised questions about the credibility of the testimony of the officers. No new trial date has been set.

Johnson turned aside a city request for an immediate appeal of his decision to the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

The city raised questions about Johnson's possible bias in the case because he received a letter from Doris Busch Boskey that might have influenced his retrial decision, but Johnson said he hadn't even read the letter until he ordered a retrial.

"Neverthless, in an overwhelming abundance of caution, the court will recuse itself from the second trial in this matter given its previous conclusion that the tesitmony of several witnesses who are likely to testify at the second trial was incredible," Johnson said in Wednesday's decision.


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