New York City was SO dangerous, back then, that he was found 'not guilty' of the shooting and was only convicted (found guilty) of having an illegal gun. Many people agreed with what he had done because the police, back then, did not seem to help anybody. He spent a few months in jail.
Nobody in New York City has forgotten Getz. Some think he is a hero and some think he is...well...not a hero.
He is now 65 years old and was arrested for trying to sell marijuana to an undercover police officer.
Here is the article:
Vocabulary to help you understand the article:
to be robbed - to be mugged; when someone takes your money away forcibly
to be found 'not guilty' - if you are accused (charged) with a crime, you can be found 'guilty' (you did it) or 'not guilty' (you didn't do it) after your trial
marijuana - a drug you smoke like a cigarette
undercover cop - a police officer who is dressed normally; you don't know this person is a police officer just by looking at him or her
vigilante - this is someone who does not trust the police and who punishes a criminal by himself. So Getz is called the 'subway vigilante' because instead of calling the police, he shot 4 people by himself.
to be arrested - this is when the police take a person into custody, or take a person to their station to be processed for a trial.
who divided the city - this means about half the city thought he was a hero and half the city thought he was a criminal
to get high - to feel nice after smoking marijuana
weed - marijuana
to be cuffed -
allegedly - the police said he did this, but it hasn't been proved
a civil lawsuit - when someone takes another person to court to get money from him
to be paralyzed - one of the young men Getz shot was paralyzed (he couldn't move part of his body)
peddling - selling
pot - marijuana
skyrocketing him to fame and infamy - if something skyrockets, it rises quickly; so after Getz shot these teens, he became famous and infamous very quickly. Infamous means famous for the wrong reasons.
narcotics cop - drug cop/police officer
mugging - robbery, theft
chatted up - began talking to
charging him with - claiming he did something, arresting him for
cracking down on ganja peddlers - ganja is another term for marijuana; the police were cracking down on people selling marijuana; cracking down on means using force to stop something
Gotham - another name for New York City
nebbish - if a guy is nebbish, he is weak, shy, scared, submissive, cowardly. Nebbish is actually a Jewish word. I'm not sure whether Getz is Jewish or not - I always thought he was Dutch or German-American (but I'm really not sure).
electronics entrepreneur - he was an electronics businessman when he became famous
fusillade - a lot of gunshots at one time
straphanger - someone who rides the subway
self-defense - Getz said he thought the black kids were trying to rob him and he had to defend himself.
a jury acquitted Getz - they found him not guilty
headline-grabbing - this news made headlines in most newspapers
he filed for bankruptcy - he told a judge he didn't have any money and only had to pay 10% of his debts.
bids for mayor and public advocate - he ran for political office twice but nobody voted for him
Getz gets off - this means Getz was found not-guilty
graced the pages of - in the newspaper of
bigots and yahoos - a bigot is someone who hates people who are different from him/her; a yahoo is an idiot. That lawyer (who is kind of a yahoo himself) claims that Getz's followers are racists and idiots. That's not fair since even a previous NY mayor, Ed Koch, defended Getz's actions. In the 80s lots of people were very scared because the police were very dishonest and corrupt and literally did nothing to help people, and the city became a crime center.
"Maybe I can garnish the profits on his dope business.." - the lawyer is saying that maybe if Getz makes a lot of money by selling 'dope' (marijuana) he (the lawyer) can 'garnish' this money (this is when a judge takes money away from someone who owes money to pay back the person to whom he owes the money. This was a joke by the lawyer.
Here's a little more about Getz from my book: New York City Sucks But You'll Still Want To Live Here. (it's available as an e-book for $3.50 on amazon): http://www.amazon.com/York-Sucks-Youll-Wanna-Anyway-ebook/dp/B004TSPAQS
If you haven't bought this book, you should! It is super cheap (I kept the price low so any foreign student could afford it). You'll learn lots of vocabulary words and secrets about US culture.
Here's a part from the 'subway stories' chapter. Vocabulary explanations are under the text. Please go through the vocabulary first and then read the story. :)