Bernard Goetz, 'subway vigilante,' caught in pot sting

Bernard Goetz, famous as the 'subway vigilante' who shot four youths in 1984 in New York, was arrested Friday. Bernard Goetz was arrested for selling $30 worth of marijuana to an undercover cop.

(AP Photo/Rene Perez)
In this 1985 photo, Bernhard Goetz, second from left, is escorted by police as he is taken out of criminal court in New York. Police say Goetz, 65, was nabbed in a sting operation Nov. 1, 2013 selling $30 worth of marijuana to an undercover officer.

New York City police say the subway vigilante – who shot four youths who threatened to beat and rob him on a train in the 1980s – has been arrested on drug charges.

Police say 65-year-old Bernard "Bernie" Goetz was nabbed in a sting operation in Union Square on Friday afternoon selling $30 worth of marijuana to an undercover officer. Police say he told the undercover to hang on, went back to the apartment where he has lived for decades and returned with the marijuana. He was then arrested on charges of criminal sale of marijuana.

Goetz was in custody awaiting arraignment Saturday and not reachable for comment.

He was cleared of attempted murder and assault charges but convicted of illegal gun possession after the 1984 attack and spent 250 days in jail.

After the 1987 trial that drew worldwide media coverage, New York's political and community leaders struggled for ways to address key urban issues raised by the case: fear of crime, citizen protection, and the treatment of blacks in the criminal-justice system. The Christian Science Monitor reported on NYC residents' reactions to the verdict.

``There are all types of brutality on the subway,'' says a woman from Brooklyn who gave her first name as Eleanor. ``But if we all take the law into our own hands, we'd be shooting each other at each opportunity. There is no justice; it's `case closed' when it's blacks.''

``I've seen what these kids can do,'' says Irza Almonoro of Manhattan. ``I ride the subway less because of fear. If I was on the jury, I would have gone the same way.''

``I am shaken and dismayed by this verdict,'' says Manhattan Borough President David Dinkins. ``I worry that it could have profound effect on this city, because it seems to be a clear and open invitation to vigilantism.''

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