John Jay College Hosts U.S. Premiere of Roger Graef’s WHEN COPS KILL

Screening and Panel Discussion Part of John Jay College’s Remembering Newtown Series

John Jay College of Criminal Justice will host the U.S. premiere of “When Cops Kill,” a documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Roger Graef.  The film is part of the College’s Remembering Newtown series. The screening will take place on Monday, April 22 at 6 p.m. in John Jay’s new building at 524 West 59 Street in room L.63. Graef will be joined by John Jay Professors Jon Shane, a former police officer and expert on police training, and Peter Diaczuk, a ballistics expert and forensic scientist, for a discussion following the film.

“We are thrilled that our students will have an opportunity to view such an insightful and important film,” said John Jay President Jeremy Travis. “This screening provides students with a creative means of learning about a timely national and international subject from a renowned criminologist and filmmaker.” Graef, a writer and filmmaker, is the first documentarian to be awarded the BAFTA Fellowship for Lifetime Achievement.

From art to lectures, John Jay College’s Remembering Newtown Series pays homage to victims of gun violence and spurs meaningful dialogue and action to address gun violence.


About the film: 

Harry Stanley, Jean Charles De Menezes and Mohammed Abdul Kahar, 23: three innocent men shot by the Metropolitan Police. In the last twelve months the Crown Prosecution Service has announced that none of the officers involved would stand trial.  No officer has been convicted over any of the 24 fatal police shootings or 30 police woundings in the past 10 years. For many it smacks of a cover-up. To the police that seems deeply unfair to honest and brave officers making split second choices under severe pressure. But if they acted honorably, how can highly trained professionals get things so badly wrong? And with the extra pressure from countering the threat of suicide bombers, are more such tragic mistakes inevitable?

New research shows us an answer. It’s helped many officers in the USA avoid a conviction when they’ve killed an innocent civilian. Now it’s being brought to the UK. It reveals how our knowledge and assumptions about shootings are based on Hollywood, not reality. And that ignorance extends to police, judges and juries.

It takes two seconds for an officer to draw and pull the trigger and in that time a suspect can fire nine rounds.   A person can turn and move as much as 13 feet in one second. So an officer facing an attacker may decide to shoot – and later swear they were facing them – when in reality their victim has turned to run and been shot in the back. In the USA an astonishing 70% of victims of police shootings are shot in the back or the side.

When Insp. Neil Sharman and PC Kevin Fagan shot and killed Harry Stanley in September 1999, Stanley was carrying a table leg and not a sawn-off shotgun as they had been told. The officers insisted he turned and faced them pointing the “gun” directly at PC Fagan.  But the fatal bullet struck Harry Stanley in the back of the head. Their story just didn’t match the evidence and they couldn’t remember key details. It looked like they were lying.

Arrested on suspicion of murder, the officers hired Dr. Bill Lewinksi, a professor of law enforcement at The University of Minnesota. Dr. Lewinski’s explanation of what happened in those fatal split seconds helped persuade the CPS not to charge the officers. It raises serious questions about police shootings.

“When Cops Kill” examines Dr. Lewinski’s extraordinary findings. They pose real questions about an officer’s ability to make decisions under high stress. They also cast genuine doubt on their ability to remember crucial details. That raises serious concerns about the reliability of their evidence.  But it doesn’t mean they’re lying.

Dr. Lewinski’s research proves that firearms officers suffer the same human frailties as the rest of us when facing a split second life and death situation.  They can only see and hear what they are focusing on. There are major holes in their memories. They’re not the infallible superheroes Hollywood would have us believe.

“When Cops Kill” includes contributions from senior police officers including Lord Stevens, former Commissioner of the Met Police, and Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur . They want more transparency around shootings, and a public debate about the role of firearms officers. They consider whether the public can accept the notion that firearms officers are only human. In the age of suicide bombers and widespread access to guns, tragic accidents may be the price of asking firearms officers to protect us.

Reporter: Graeme McLagan
Director: Jane Sayers
Producer: Tom Tanner
Production Manager: Zoe Korstner
Executive Producer for Films of Record: Roger Graef
Deputy Editor of Panorama: Andy Bell

A Films of Record Production for the BBC

About John Jay College of Criminal Justice: An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nationsIn teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit

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Doreen Viñas-Pineda 212-237-8645