Witness Accounts in Midtown Hammer Attack Show the Power of False Memory

Jim Dwyer, New York Times, May 14, 2015

{snip} On the dot of 10 on Wednesday morning, Anthony O’Grady, 26, stood in front of a Dunkin’ Donuts on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan. He heard a ruckus, some shouts, then saw a police officer chase a man into the street and shoot him down in the middle of the avenue.

Moments later, Mr. O’Grady spoke to a reporter for The New York Times and said the wounded man was in flight when he was shot. “He looked like he was trying to get away from the officers,” Mr. O’Grady said.

Another person on Eighth Avenue then, Sunny Khalsa, 41, had been riding her bicycle when she saw police officers and the man. Shaken by the encounter, she contacted the Times newsroom with a shocking detail.

“I saw a man who was handcuffed being shot,” Ms. Khalsa said. “And I am sorry, maybe I am crazy, but that is what I saw.”

At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, the Police Department released a surveillance videotape that showed that both Mr. O’Grady and Ms. Khalsa were wrong.

Contrary to what Mr. O’Grady said, the man who was shot had not been trying to get away from the officers; he was actually chasing an officer from the sidewalk onto Eighth Avenue, swinging a hammer at her head. Behind both was the officer’s partner, who shot the man, David Baril.

And Ms. Khalsa did not see Mr. Baril being shot while in handcuffs; he is, as the video and still photographs show, freely swinging the hammer, then lying on the ground with his arms at his side. He was handcuffed a few moments later, well after he had been shot.

There is no evidence that the mistaken accounts of either person were malicious or intentionally false. Studies of memories of traumatic events consistently show how common it is for errors to creep into confidently recalled accounts, according to cognitive psychologists.


“I feel totally embarrassed,” [Ms. Khalsa] said on Thursday, after having seen the video.

She now believes that she saw the initial encounter and then looked away, as she was on her bicycle. In that moment, the man began the attack, which lasted about three seconds until he was shot. “I didn’t see the civilian run or swing a hammer,” she said. “In my mind I assumed he was just standing there passively, and now is on the ground in handcuffs.”

“With all of the accounts in the news of police officers in shootings, I assumed that police were taking advantage of someone who was easily discriminated against,” she added. “Based on what I saw, I assumed the worst. Even though I had looked away.”



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  • Dave West

    The police should have called for backup and tried to calm the man down, he was clearly one swing of the hammer away from getting his life on the right track!

    • Steve_in_Vermont

      The police were obviously negligent for not calling in a mental health team to talk the man down. Of course being chased by a man swinging a hammer may have delayed the call.

    • Oil Can Harry

      “He a GOOD KID, nome sayin’? He was an aspiring rapper, tryin’ to turn his life around.
      Why da po-lice gotta be shootin’ him? HE DIN DO NUFFIN!”

      • Albert

        He was known by all as a kind and gentle giant. It’s likely he was doing some carpentry before the police viciously attacked him.

      • Jefferson Goodberry

        If I decided to become record mogul, what stage name should I give the first “artist” I sign to become a rap-star: A.) MC Dindu B.) Ice Nuffins or C.) Lil’ Dindu. – Let the voting commence!

        • JGTThrasher

          My stage name is MC G. Hetto. We got songs like “Wat Da Fuq?” and “Salt Some Crackas” plus a love song named “On Dat Fat A**.”

        • throttler

          I like C.

  • dd121

    It’s useless to try to apply logic to anything blacks say or do.

  • MekongDelta69

    “I saw the evil White cop assassinating the noble black man, who dindu nuffins. Yeah – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

  • Usually Much Calmer

    You can easily forward this story to everyone you know and say what interested you about it was a Malcolm Gladwell-esque musing on human fallibility. So Cool!

  • Luca D.

    Wonder if DeBlasio will hold a press conference praising the officer who clearly saved a life.

    • Cid Campeador

      ” Holdeth NOT Thy Breath.”
      “Big Bird” cannot see beyond his son’s bushy Afro.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    It’s unfortunate for the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” supporters that this was caught on video. The story would have then relied on these “witnesses” and supported the narrative….white police officer shoots unarmed black man. And the hammer? Why, he was on his way to work as a construction worker.

    • DonReynolds

      Obviously, the police planted the hammer and edited the video.
      (Yes, I am joking.)

      • TCA

        Looked more like a sandwich than a hammer.

    • Albert

      If Obama has his way, all cops will be walking with video cameras on their person. Unfortunately, this tactic would only help to vindicate them in most cases.

      • A Freespeechzone

        You forgot to mention that under Obama, cops would be unarmed–cops with guns = intolerance, intimidation & racism.

        • nordicman

          The sad fact is many of these cops (whites) would go along with it. Look at how much we have whimped out in the past few decades.

    • Mack0

      My theory is he really wanted to nail the female officer

  • Tarczan

    “the man who was shot had not been trying to get away from the officers; he was actually chasing an officer from the sidewalk onto Eighth Avenue, swinging a hammer at her head. Behind both was the officer’s partner, who shot the man, David Baril.”

    What? The male officer had to rescue his female partner? She ran?

    • Steve_in_Vermont

      You’re darn right she ran. She had absolutely NO time to draw her gun and was simply in survival mode. Had she stood her ground she would have been struck by the hammer and severely injured or killed. It was over in seconds.

      • Albert

        To shoot a black criminal is to risk career suicide. Likely she was running to save her job and avoid prison time.

        • nordicman

          What’s the alternative? Let the black criminal kill you? Why are whites always making excuses for not fighting back? NO, I’m not saying harm people who aren’t bothering anyone. I’m against that. But if someone is physically attacking you or your family fight back. The consequences are irrelevant in that matter.

          • TCA

            Prosecutors know they will not face consequences from relatives and friends of White men they unjustly attempt to jail. Mosby might not get off clean, but I think most of the time, if you shoot a dindu who’s raping your grandmother, you can expect to be charged with murder and incur substantial legal expense, since the prosecutor feels he risks nothing by bringing charges.
            I don’t know what the solution is.

    • Strider73

      An assailant can cover seven yards from a standing start in ~1.5 seconds — less time than it takes to unholster a gun. I learned that “21-foot rule” in a gun training manual; IMO it should be required for all CCW training classes.

      • Dr Duke

        The sad thing is in many states you will go to jail for murder if you shoot the attacker at 20 feet.

      • TCA

        Not an expert but read that even after you shoot the guy, he’s still got enough oxygen in his brain/blood to go for a few more seconds, which is enough time to do serious injury swinging a hammer. I think there are some situations where you might be better off drawing a baton. Naturally, carrying a concealed baton, even with a cc gun permit, is illegal.

  • Chip Carver

    “False memory”. In this case it’s plain old lying from a lot of the “witnesses”.

    • bilderbuster

      According to the reporter these were “Honest mistakes”, very common, and it could happen to any of us at any time.

  • superlloyd

    Nearly all the black eyewitnesses in Ferguson had “False memory”. Gnomesayin’.

    • Dave West

      I call it the Dorian Johnson syndrome.

      • Sick of it

        I’d call it TNB.

        • EuropeanIdentity33

          I call it lying through their teeth.

    • Alexandra1973

      I hear a lot of them had no idea why they were shouting “Hands up don’t shoot” to begin with.

    • Light from the East

      Blacks are known for their poor memory capacity. “BLACK LIES MATTER” – This is what I’ve learned from the Ferguson incident.

  • Evette Coutier

    Don’t bring a hammer to a gun fight. Avoid blacks at all costs. Don’t pick fights with cops. All lessons white folks should gleam from this encounter.

    • Who Me?

      Most Whites already know lessons #1 and #3. it’s #2 they have so much trouble with.

      • Evette Coutier

        That’s true. However, I’ve run into far too many who think we can stop violence with group hugs.

        • TCA

          See the d-bag featured on Kersey’s blog, moved his wife and daughters to the ghetto because it’s the right thing to do?

          • Evette Coutier

            You can’t cure stupid.

      • nordicman

        The reason why we have a hard time avoiding #2 is because of forced diversity.

  • Reynardine

    Hammer’s up, DO SHOOT!

  • Who Me?

    This is exactly why cops need body cams, to stop innocent cops from getting railroaded. This and incidents like the officer in Oakland, where the (minority) firefighter said the cop racially profiled and terrorized him and his two little sons, and the camera proved he did nothing of the sort. Most police officers should welcome the body cams with joy and relief.

    • Racial Profiling… or any form of profiling = learning from experience, and following the clues!! That’s what people who oppose profiling want – ignore your God given instincts and senses, experiences, and the sensory evaluation of others to take a decision. In some opinions, people claim that infringes on integrity and stereotypes are accused. Stereotype = an assessment made from former experiences, and the same, or a similar experience – shared from another person(s) that persists over time and resists attempts to improve the experience. Buying a name brand product = profiling and stereotyping. Selecting a fruit based upon a person’s assessment of its ripeness – stereotyping and profiling. Using your senses and past personal experiences to make a rational, deductive decision = stereotyping and/or profiling.

      • TCA

        That is an excellent point that needs to be repeated loudly and often.
        Very few people are literally prejudiced. Quack=duck

    • ElComadreja

      Before long blacks will be screaming that the videos are “tampered with”. There’s no reasoning with primitives.

  • The media keeps pounding the meme “innocent/unarmed black man.” So it shouldn’t be any wonder if people actually start seeing what they hear all the time. It’s dangerous times for those accused of shooting an “innocent black man” when there’s no video coverage.

    • DonReynolds

      In the movie Unforgiven, Sheriff Little Bill (Gene Hackman) asked the question:
      “Innocent of what?”

  • Sick of it

    Uh oh, they got caught lying. How embarrassing.

  • drattastic

    Though body cameras will be annoying for police they are a good cops best defense.

    • Sick of it

      Many cops have to buy their own. Budgets are being slashed. But if they don’t have such a camera on their person when they deal with the ever peaceful brothers and sisters of Obama, the narrative will destroy their lives.

      • drattastic

        Worth every penny.

      • Tim_in_Indiana

        The price is coming down and the quality is getting better all the time. I was reading recently how a local police force is equipping its officers with cameras, and while they once were bulky and cost thousands of dollars each they are now about the size of a pager and are downright affordable.

      • Cid Campeador

        You forgot the hypothetical ” Sons” of Obama”.

        • Sick of it

          Brothers, sisters, sons…with black folks they might all be the same relative.

      • nordicman

        Can’t these cops write it off on their taxes? If it’s for work? I’m not an accountant, but I would ask my accountant if that is something tax deductible.

        • Sick of it

          It depends on the cost and their adjusted gross income. A lot of folks can’t write off rather high medical expenses, let alone work related expenses, due to the standard deduction.

  • bilderbuster

    No malice?
    Sunny Khalsa stopped riding her bicycle and called The New York Times, gave a false account and her name to a reporter too.
    She sounds like someone in a hurry to go public with a lie to me.

    • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

      The quote from her is very odd too: “I didn’t see the civilian run or swing a hammer,” she said. Regular people don’t talk like this. It could be sloppy reporting (in the NYT!?! say it isn’t so!) and should’ve been: “I didn’t see [the civilian] run or swing a hammer,” she said. Or she herself has a law enforcement or military background. If it’s the latter, then that’s rather frightening.

      • Or, the NYT reporters use their own words to clarify what was spoken to them in Ebonics. The narrative has many facets and must include a lucid, rational and emotionally dispassionate observer – hence the modified comments reported. “He be kilt of no reasons.” Or “He din do’s nutting”. “He be han cuffs.” Are not necessarily comments the typical reader of the NYT can interpret. The typical reader might become angry with the reporting if the truth was told verbatim.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    At 3 p.m. on Wednesday, the Police Department released a surveillance videotape that showed that both Mr. O’Grady and Ms. Khalsa were wrong.

    Giving false accounts is all the rage. The media didn’t care if the Duke rape case was a complete lie, or if Dorian Johnson falsely said Michael Brown was facing Officer Wilson with his hands up pleading for his life.

    Rolling Stone didn’t care if Sabrina Erdely’s “A Rape on Campus” was a lie – they probably knew it when they published it and went ahead anyway. If they didn’t, why didn’t they vet the story before it went to press?

    The mainstream media encourage this if it is damaging to Whites, anything to damage Whites. That’s why all Whites need to disconnect from the msm NOW.

    Why support an organization that covers up and excuses away rapes, assaults and murders by blacks against your children?

    • True Dat! It be the intentions and outcomes desired that matters. Whatever will advance the narrative is published. Accuracy and truth are great if they actually happen. If not, making stuffs up will provide material to print that reaffirms the narrative. Only when reporters are jailed for lies will this crap end. The FCC licenses should be issued with a truth mandate. Any station caught lying or torturing the truth loses their license – with no chance of future renewal – lifetime ban.

  • LHathaway

    Remember the days when witness testimony was the number one most coveted piece of evidence in any trial?

    • DonReynolds

      Yes, I can well remember when there were no videos, no security cameras, video or still shots. Sworn testimony of two witnesses was sufficient for a conviction. Now, it does not matter if fifty people were watching, they still want a video OR THEY WILL NOT BRING CHARGES.

      • LHathaway

        I was thinking DNA, nowadays. And the fact that now witness testimony would seem to be the least valuable piece of evidence.

      • Who Me?

        In many cases of violence or attack even videos of the event are not sufficient to bring a conviction, sometimes not even enough to get the attackers charged, much less tried and/or convicted. Especially in cases of mob violence or riot, and most importantly if the attack is black on White, the video is likely to disappear down the rabbit hole or be declared inadmissible, irrelevant or inflammatory.

    • toldev

      Yes, but look at the witnesses in the Michael Brown shooting. No prosecutor of that era who valued his career and reputation would ever put those witnesses on the stand.

      • bilderbuster

        They didn’t need cameras because the witnesses’s stories all contradicted each other AND the physical evidence.
        Lying to a grand jury is a very serious crime just like incitement to riot is but no one has been charged with either.

    • bilderbuster

      There was a time when Blacks weren’t allowed to sit on juries too.
      Or so I’ve been told.

      • nordicman

        There was a time when they were too afraid to set foot in our towns, businesses or even so much as look at us in the eye.

    • Sick of it

      That was with white witnesses…

  • Tim_in_Indiana

    “With all of the accounts in the news of police officers in shootings, I assumed that police were taking advantage of someone who was easily discriminated against,” she added. “Based on what I saw, I assumed the worst. Even though I had looked away.”

    When you ASSume…

  • gemjunior

    Stupid bitch. It’s too late to say you are sorry, you thought you saw this or that – get your facts straight. Cops are being shot and murdered based on the mentality of sympathy for the blacks. They don’t need sympathy, they need a swift kick in the backside to stop the nonsense.

  • Jim Kental

    White folks see a black man raging while swinging a hammer, and y’all jump to conclusions!!!!

    • Reynardine

      We’re really stereotyping hammer-swingers when we say that all hammer-swingers are violent and out to hurt people. That’s wrong and it has to stop.


      • ghettovalley

        When I was a young teenager my best friend right up the street had a grandfather who was suffering from dementia. One day I knocked on the door and he came outside swinging a hammer at me, screaming wild accusations. He thought that I was his long dead brother and that I had stolen something from him. When white people do this kind of thing, it is generally due to some type of psychological problem such as Alzheimer’s. When blacks do it, it’s generally just typical negro business.

    • Who Me?

      I see ANYBODY, black, White, male, female, young or old, running down the street swinging a hammer, I’m getting the heck out of the territory. Stereotyping and profiling (in other words intelligence and knowledge, coupled with past experience) tells me that something bad is happening or about to happen and I don’t want to be part of it in any way.

    • nordicman

      Black folks see a white man walking down the street wearing white bedsheets and they all jump to conclusions

  • mgs166

    They only see what they have been “programmed” to see.

  • DonReynolds

    All this proves is the willingness of blacks and Liberals to give false witness to the media, who slobber all over themselves trying to broadcast the lies from coast to coast.
    THAT is what is causing the problem, and the riots, and the violence.
    There should be no media coverage of any crime until AFTER the investigation is complete…..else the jury pool is polluted with pre-trial publicity and the false narrative is used by anarchists and radicals to commit (or incite) more crimes.

  • EuropeanIdentity33

    So is the term “false memories” the new PC term for lying?


      Only if the lie was intended to harm white people and police officers.

  • ShermanTMcCoy


    • bilderbuster

      Actually it was The Hammer Negro against 3 unarmed citizens until the cops showed up and put an end to that.

      • Sick of it

        If those cowards had used their bodies or even their car keys, he would not have been a problem.

    • Cid Campeador

      Please let us pray that they REMAIN “stupid”.

  • African Innovation

    Yet anotha unarmd black man gun’d down in cold blood by da poleece. Win dese estrajudishool killins gon’ stop, mayne? Whyt supremacy be uhlive und well. Reel tawk. Crackas ass muh fuckas be insaynly gellus uh African uhccomplishmints und fearful uh our soledareity. Errybuddy nose America woodint be shyt wiffout uz blacks doin all da werk und maken shuuh da cracka don fuk it uhp. Furreal furreal. Bes’ bileeve dat.

    • Strider73

      In the ~4.5 years since Barbara Billingsley died, America has been crying out for a new official Ebonics expert. I believe the long search is over! Praise the Lord!

      • TCA

        Sho do miss Miss Billensly, dough.

    • ghettovalley

      For shizzle my nizzle

  • bubo

    Gee, now does everyone understand why people should be wary of black “eyewitnesses” who happen to see terrible acts of racism committed by police?

  • Reverend Bacon

    The New York Times was once a revered organization. Recently, they’ve become the US equivalent of TASS. More recently, however, I’ve seen glimpses of integrity and actual journalism from them. Articles like this do little to enhance “The Narrative,” so why did they write it? Actual ethics, perhaps?

    They’ve also given a bit of ink to the evidence against Hillary Clinton. They’re not coming out and calling her a crook yet, as they did with Nixon years ago. But so far they’ve been more reasonable than I’ve come to expect from them. Maybe that’s just my own perception.

    They are still in the tank for Obama, as far as I can tell. Redemption comes slowly, if it comes at all.

    • TCA

      “The New York Times was once a revered organization.”
      Only by children.

  • Lexonaut

    Civilized people don’t attack others with hammers, especially not police officers.

    It’s over, folks. It really is. They’re not like us — not at all like us. Not the perps, not the eyewitnesses. Separation of the races is the only answer.

    • Sick of it

      We’ve been in a war for generations…it’s just that one side isn’t fighting back.

  • Mack0

    The same phenomenon that resulted in false witness account also explains why these same groups see unconscious bias, microaggressions and institutional racism everywhere they look. They are all subjective interpretations based entirely on what the person wants to see not what’s really there. For leftist, what a person feels is just as valid, often more so, than the actual facts. You can’t have a functioning stable society with thinking like that because it always leads to rationalizing and justifying horrible behavior like what’s happened in Ferguson and Baltimore. For example, despite all evidence indicating Darren Wilson acted appropriately and even after being cleared by the DOJ the riots are still being justified. Why? Because what the rioters feel is more important than the facts.

    • Manxman

      You’ve expressed very well what most of us have observed I think.

      Women are particularly prone to this way of thinking. Emotional empathy (female) vs cognitive empathy (male) are psychological theories proposed to explain this if you want to read more.

  • Spikeygrrl

    “[Dr. Loftus’s] skeleton theory [of false memory] explains the idea of how a memory is recalled, which is split into two categories: the acquisition processes and the retrieval processes.

    “The acquisition processes are in three separate steps. First, upon the original encounter, the observer selects a stimulus to focus on. The information that the observer can focus on compared to the information in the situation is very small. In other words, a lot is going on around us and we only pick up on a small portion.Therefore, the observer must make a selection on the focal point. Second, our visual perception must be translated into statements and descriptions. The statements represent a collection of concepts and objects; they are the link between the event occurrence and the recall. Third, the perceptions are subject to any ‘external’ information being provided before or after the interpretation. This subsequent set of information can alter recall.
    (emphasis added)

    • Who Me?

      In plain English–if you see pink tigers walking down the street, your brain (previous information or knowledge) tells you there is no way you saw pink tigers walking down the street, so you think you saw something else, and you say you saw something else (unless you want a 72 hour involuntary commitment somewhere really unpleasant!)

      • Spikeygrrl


        • Who Me?

          Well, that’s greatly simplified, but I tend to explain things that way sometimes, since I’ve spent most of my adult life explaining things to young children who need things as simple and literal as possible.

      • TCA

        well, we know it works the other way, if you see regular tigers and everyone you’re with swears they were pink, you may begin think that perhaps they were pink after all.
        But the real point should be that if human memory is faulty, video is vulnerable to fraud. Some recent videos that have been questioned by apparently sane, sophisticated observers are the Walter Scott shooting, and this “biker shootout” in Waco.
        Mendel faked his data, Dr. Martin Luther King plagiarized his dissertation and is really named Michael, not Martin; entire villages have been built to fool czars, archeologists faked discoveries, Jews have been paid “reparations” for the “holocaust.”
        Nothing may safely be taken at face value, it seems.

  • GAWZ

    I witnessed a shooting death one night, many years ago. One shot was fired. At the time I could have sworn that more rounds had been fired but it was quickly discovered that I was completely wrong.

  • Rob

    Ms. Khalsa is a Sikh person. We need to get those turban people out of the west.

  • Duke56

    100% correct

  • Lewis33

    “Moments later, Mr. O’Grady spoke to a reporter for The New York Times” Oh, oh, a repressed angry looking minority, I HAVE to go interview that guy! So oblivious to journalistic malpractice they don’t even try to hide it.

  • A black attacking police with a hammer is one half of the problem.

    Did anyone notice the other half of the problem? The quota police woman could not defend herself and needed to be saved by the male policeman!

  • pennawhytmn

    So now instead of saying a Black person lied about something, we have to say he/she “told a false memory”. That fits in with “teens, youths”. Funny they didn’t call the incident, “handiwork gone wrong”.

  • John Smith

    Pray to God you are never arrested, charged and tried solely on the basis of witness testimony. White, black, etc., it is incredibly unreliable.

    • If the witness believes in “the narrative” that racist whites hunt down innocent Blacks, then the witness testimony is even less reliable. Witnesses think that some “embellishment” helps social justice. Like the lying witnesses against Darren Wilson.