Death of Randolph Evans

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Randolph Evans (1961–1976) was a 15-year-old Brooklyn boy who was shot and killed by NYPD officer Robert Torsney on November 25, 1976. Evans was a ninth-grader at Franklin K. Lane High School in Brooklyn at the time of the shooting.


On Thanksgiving Day 1976, responding to a report of a man with a gun in the Cypress Hills housing projects, Officer Torsney encountered a group of youths. After a brief conversation, Torsney shot one of them, Evans, point-blank in the head.

After shooting Evans, Torsney made no effort to check on the boy’s condition but instead walked to his patrol car, got in, removed the spent cartridge from his weapon, and calmly replaced it with another bullet. Torsney’s partner, Officer Matthew Williams, who was already in the vehicle when Torsney shot Evans, asked, “What did you do?” Torsney responded, “I don’t know, Matty. What did I do?” [1]

Legal proceedings[edit]

On the day of Evans' funeral, Torsney was indicted by a grand jury on charges of second-degree murder. At the trial of Torsney, which began in October, 1977, his defense maintained that the killing resulted from a psychotic episode due to an epileptic condition. Torsney's attorney maintained this illness was the automatism of Penfield, named for neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield. On November 30, 1977, one year after Evans' funeral, Torsney was found not guilty by reason of insanity.[2] Torsney was remanded to Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens.

Torsney's release and aftermath[edit]

On December 20, 1978, a Brooklyn State Supreme Court ordered Torsney's release, stating he no longer posed a threat to society. The Torsney case was mentioned by Bob Herbert in his New York Times column after the shooting of Sean Bell which took place exactly 30 years to the day after the killing of Evans.[3]


  1. ^ Ewing, Charles Patrick (2008). Insanity: Murder, Madness, and the Law. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-0-19-532613-0.
  2. ^ Dunning, Jennifer. "Officer Torsney Acquitted as Jury Rules Him Insane in Killing of Boy" New York Times, December 1, 1977, p. 1.
  3. ^ "Badges, Guns and Another Unarmed Victim", The New York Times, November 30, 2006, accessed March 31, 2008.