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Reinstatement Of Cop In Bumpurs Case Brings Strong Reactions

February 2, 1985 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ The announcement that a police officer was reinstated to duty one day after his indictment on charges of killing an elderly woman brought angry reactions from some community leaders.

The Rev. Herbert Daughtry, who has been critical of the police shooting of 66-year-old Eleanor Bumpurs of the Bronx, charged that Friday’s action shows the Police Department believes ″it is its own law.″

But a spokesman for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Dennis Sheehan, who criticized the indictment Thursday of Officer Stephen Sullivan said the PBA was ″gratified″ by the decision to reinstate him. Daughtry’s remarks about police guidelines superseding the law were ″just ludicrous and way out of line,″ he said.

Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward said he was putting Sullivan back on the force at full pay because his indictment ″does not provide a basis for changing my original preliminary finding that Officer Sullivan acted within departmental guidelines.″

He said Sullivan was being relieved of his service revolver and shield and was being assigned to an adminstrative position.

Ward also announced that he was issuing new guidelines restricting the use of shotguns by police officers, and would be seeking funding for the purchase of ″taser″ stun guns.

Sullivan, a 19-year police veteran assigned to the elite Emergency Service Unit, was suspended without pay following his indictment on a charge of second-degree manslaughter. Mrs. Bumpurs, who was black, was shotgunned to death Oct. 29 after she allegedly lunged at police officers with a butcher knife as they attempted to evict her from her city-owned apartment.

The shooting prompted an angry outcry from the city’s black community, which Daughtry, a leader of the Black United Front, echoed following Ward’s announcement.

″I’m just shocked by what I call the audacity of the Police Department,″ he said. ″Its actions should make it clear to people that the Police Department believes it is its own law.... The procedures that the Police Department uses are not supposed to supersede the law.″

City Council President Carol Bellamy also was critical of the action, issuing a statement saying the reinstatement ″could undermine public confidence in the department’s ability to police itself.″

Mayor Edward Koch said he was saddened by the indictment of Sullivan, but would not comment on Ward’s decision to put Sullivan back on duty. Through a spokesman, Koch said he did not want to interfere in the discipline of police officers.