Monroe Community College
No heroes, no villains
On June 28, 1972, James Richardson awaiting the subway train which would take him to work. He was stopped and ordered to “put up your hands, and get against the wall”. These directions were given by an off duty Transit Authority patrolman named John Skagen. Skagen’s actions seem unprovoked and unnecessary. After a short tussle the two men exchanged shots and Richardson fled the scene on foot. Two other officers that were on the main street above the subway station were made aware of what was transpiring below and rushed to the scene. As they approached the entrance of the station, Richardson who was fleeing the scene ran directly into one of the officers. The officer noticing Richardson’s wound attempted to stop Richardson and engaged in pursuit. The other officer continued down into the subway and witnesses Skagen who was in civilian clothes brandishing his gun. At that moment the officer emptied his gun into Skagen who was able to let off one round prior to the officer shooting him. Richardson was later apprehended and taken to the emergency room for his wounds. His gun was also retrieved. Skagen was rushed to the same hospital emergency room where he was pronounced dead.
Richardson confessed to shooting Skagen and revealed that there were only four rounds exchanged between the two men. Skagen’s autopsy revealed that he had been shot five times and showed eight wounds in total. The report stated that he had five entry wounds, two exit wounds, and one re-entry wound, but only four bullets were recovered from the body. Richardson was arrested and charged with felony murder, manslaughter in the second degree, attempted murder, and escape in the second degree, felony possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment in the second degree, and criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree. Richardson obtained William Kunstler for his defense. At arraignment