The Bernhard Goetz Trial: A Chronology
by Jon Beeman and Evan Lange


November 7, 1947 Bernhard Hugo Goetz is born in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York.
1969
Goetz graduates from New York University with a degree in electrical and nuclear engineering.
1975
Goetz launches his own business out of his Greenwich Village apartment calibrating electronic equipment.
1981
Goetz is violently mugged by 3 African-American men in a New York City subway. Unsatisfied with the punishment for the men, Goetz begins to question the effectiveness of NYC Police and starts to carry a concealed gun.
December 22, 1984 On board NYC's No. 2 Expressway, Goetz fears trouble after being approached by four African-American men.  He fires five shots, injuring all four African Americans and leaving one of them (Darrell Cabey) permanently paralyzed. Goetz rents a car and fleas to New England.
December 29, 1984 Goetz, after telephoning his neighbor, learns that he is has been identified as a suspect in the subway shootings.
December 31, 1984 Goetz turns himself in to Concord, New Hampshire police.  Barry Allen, one of the four men shot, goes home after nine days of hospitalization.
January 2, 1985 Goetz is arraigned in a New Hampshire Court.  Troy Canty, another one of the young men shot, prepares to leave the hospital.
January 3, 1985 Goetz is brought back to Manhattan and arraigned on four charges of attempted murder; bail is set at $50,000.
January 9, 1985 Darrell Cabey stops breathing and slips into a coma.  If Cabey dies, Goetz’s attempted murder charged would be bumped up to murder.
January 25, 1985 In a hearing before a grand jury, prosecutors seek indictments on four counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault, one count of reckless endangerment and four counts of criminal possession of a weapon. The 23 jurors refused to indict Goetz on anything more serious than three counts of illegal gun possession.
February 1985 Two victims, Canty and Cabey, file civil suits against Goetz seeking $50 million in damages.
February 26, 1985 U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani decides not to proceed with a federal civil rights prosecution after finding insufficient evidence that race was a motive in the shooting.
March 14, 1985 Based on new evidence regarding the fifth shot that paralyzed Cabey, District Attorney Waples petitions Judge Crane to allow him to resubmit the assault and attempted murder charged to a grand jury.
March 27, 1985 A second grand jury indicts Goetz on ten new charges, including four charges of attempted murder and four charges of assault.
June 27, 1985 Goetz shooting victim James Ramseur is arrested for raping and robbing a nineteen-year-old woman at his apartment complex.
October 14, 1985 Goetz moves to dismiss the charges contained in the second indictment alleging that the evidence before the grand jury was not sufficient to establish the offenses charged and that the prosecutor’s instructions to the grand jury on self-defense were erroneous and prejudicial to the defendant.
January 21, 1986 Judge Crane dismisses nine counts of the original thirteen based on the prosecution’s explanation of the New York self-defense statute to the second grand jury, leaving only the charges of gun possession and reckless endangerment.
March 3, 1986 James Ramseur is convicted of rape, robbery, sodomy, sexual abuse, assault, criminal use of a firearm, and possession of stolen property.  He will spend the next 25 years in prison on these charges.
July 8, 1986 The New York Court of Appeals holds that the prosecution’s self-defense description was correct and all counts of the indictment are reinstated.
December 12, 1986 The criminal trial of the People of New York v. Bernhard Hugo Goetz opens in New York City.
December 13, 1986 Three hundred prospective jurors are summoned to the Manhattan Supreme Court for initial jury selection and voir dire.
April 27, 1987 After a long and tedious voir dire process, opening statements are made in the Goetz trial.
May 5, 1987 James Ramseur enters the courtroom to testify for the prosecution.  He refuses to testify and Judge Crane holds him in contempt.
May 19, 1987 James Ramseur returns to the courtroom to purge his contempt citations.  After Slotnick’s two-day cross examination, Ramseur refuses to answer any more of Slotnick’s questions and Judge Crane reinstates the contempt charges and strikes Ramseur's testimony from the record.
June 2, 1987
The defense rests without calling Bernhard Goetz to the stand.
June 10-12, 1987 Closing arguments are made in the Goetz trial.
June 16, 1986 the jury finds Bernhard Goetz guilty on the charge of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree. Goetz is acquitted of all counts relating to attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree. (Goetz is later sentenced to six months in jail, one year of psychiatric treatment, five years of probation, two hundred hours of community service and a fine of $5,000.)
November 22, 1986 Goetz’s sentence is upheld by the Court of Appeals of New York.
1996
The civil suit against Goetz filed by Darrell Cabey is tried. The jury finds Goetz liable of reckless and deliberate infliction of emotional distress and awards Cabey $43 million in damages ($18 million for pain and suffering and $25 million for punitive damages). Goetz subsequently files for bankruptcy.
2001
Goetz runs unsuccessfully for Mayor of New York City.
2002
Goetz plays a criminalist who teaches students how to use a concealed weapon in the movie “Every Move You Make.”

2004
Goetz is interviewed by Nancy Grace on Larry King Live and states that his actions served the greater good for New York City.
2005
Goetz runs unsuccessfully for New York City Public Advocate.
2010
Goetz is interviewed for an episode of The Biography Channel’s “Aftermath with William Shatner.” Goetz continues to believe his actions on the New York City subway were fully justified.

Bernhard Goetz Trial Homepage