1999 — Amadou Diallo is shot dead

Amadou Diallo was only 23 years old, and had only been in New York City for about two and half years at the time of his death. Stopped by police, he was shot dead in the act of reaching for his wallet, when police believed he was going for a concealed weapon (Diallo was in fact completely unarmed). Four plainclothes policemen: Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon and Kenneth Boss, fired a total of 41 shots at Diallo, hitting him with 19 them.

Unsurprisingly, all this overkill in the aid of precisely no useful purpose generated a considerable backlash against the NYPD, especially when the four officers were found innocent of all wrong-doing on appeal – even though one of them had shot and killed a different unarmed man two years previously. Although the unit to which the four officers belonged was disbanded as a result of the controversy, all of the men continued to work for the police force for some years after the incident.

Referenced in:
Contempt Breeds Contamination — Trivium
American Skin (41 Shots) — Bruce Springsteen
I Know You Don’t Care About Me — Ziggy Marley
Shot Into History (Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell…) — Mario Depeine Sr.