On this date in 1984, self-employed electronics repairman Bernhard Goetz just said no to subway mugging. Letting his gun do the talking, Goetz shot four unarmed men he claimed were trying to rob him. He fled the state after the shooting, but turned himself in nine days later in New Hampshire.
Goetz was tried for felony assault, attempted murder, and illegal weapons possession. He was acquitted of the assault and attempted murder charges, but convicted of the weapons charge, for which he served eight months in jail.
Following the criminal trial, Darrell Cabey, one of the men who was shot, filed a lawsuit against Goetz. The jury found Goetz liable for Cabey’s injuries and awarded Cabey – who was left paralyzed by the shooting – $43 million. Goetz responded by filing for bankruptcy.
Since the shooting, Goetz has run unsuccessfully for mayor of New York, and for public advocate. He also founded his own company, appropriately named Vigilante Electronics.
The Eighties Club – The Subway Vigilante
Wikipedia – Bernhard Goetz
Biography Channel – Bernhard Goetz