In 1995 three Puerto Rican teenagers enter an apartment where they are shot many times by plain clothes NYPD officers. Two of the teenagers die and one is wounded. The officers claim the ... See full summary »

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In 1995 three Puerto Rican teenagers enter an apartment where they are shot many times by plain clothes NYPD officers. Two of the teenagers die and one is wounded. The officers claim the men had come to rob the tenants of the apartment but one of the boy's mothers investigates the shooting after the Grand Jury find everything was fine. The Civilian Compliant Review Board CCRB also pick up her complaint and find proof of a shoddy investigation, over-looked facts and an attempt to cover up anything that would make the NYPD look bad that goes the whole way to Mayor Giuliani himself. Written by Bob the Moo

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6 December 2002 (UK)  »

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Powerful documentary despite a too personal and amateur approach
10 January 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

In 1995 three Puerto Rican teenagers enter an apartment where they are shot many times by plain clothes NYPD officers. Two of the teenagers die and one is wounded. The officers claim the men had come to rob the tenants of the apartment but one of the boy's mothers investigates the shooting after the Grand Jury find everything was fine. The Civilian Compliant Review Board CCRB also pick up her complaint and find proof of a shoddy investigation, over-looked facts and an attempt to cover up anything that would make the NYPD look bad that goes the whole way to Mayor Giuliani himself.

This documentary appears very amateurish and takes a while to get going. The film spends far too much time getting to know the family of one of the killed boys rather than moving on with the facts. This is good to a point but it was laboured here. When the film starts to chart the investigations of both the mother and the CCRB then the film picks up speed and exposes layer upon layer of evidence that points to an illegal killing by NYPD that was over looked at every step of the official investigation.

The documentary brings the picture together well but again it's weaknesses come when it focuses on the mother and the family and loses sight of the bigger picture. The end of the film should have been powerful but instead comes down to a focus on one woman's fight for justice. Happily for most of the film we see footage from the CCRB investigation, interviews with witnesses etc that shows that the shooting was probably not legal - in fact a report shows the bullets entered the backs of the boys on the whole while they were prostrate on the floor! But this goes against the reports presented to the Grand Jury!

The film feels like it amateurish as the boom comes into shot regularly and the way it is constructed means that the facts don't flow on top of one another like they should. It always seems to stops and loose momentum when it should be piling up an insurmountable case onto the audience. However this can be forgiven because when it works the subject matter will have you gripped. And, although the personal angle takes away a little from the bigger picture, it is impossible not to feel for the family and the (ongoing) uphill struggle they face.

Overall the story within this documentary is powerful enough to overcome the slightly ham-fisted production that feels like it is an amateur effort on the behalf of all concerned. It's just a shame that at time of writing the film is yet to get a full release in America.


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