The “cowboy” cops who killed a crazed stagehand in Midtown in a hail of bullets should have never used deadly force, says the innocent bystander struck by one of the slugs.
Lauran Code, 46, who was in town last year for her high-powered job as a fashion designer with photo-sharing Web site Shutterfly, had just grabbed breakfast when an officer rushed to take down Garry Conrad — an out-of-work stagehand who allegedly lunged at cops with a knife at the crowded intersection of Eighth Avenue and West 49th Street.
Police opened fire, shooting nine times. One fatal bullet struck the 46-year-old Conrad. Seven shots missed, but one hit Code, who was just a few feet away.
Suddenly, her right wrist felt like it was on fire.
“She then looked down . . . and saw that part of the flesh of her wrist was gone. There was blood all over her arm and on the ground below her,” according to a $25 million lawsuit filed last week against the city.
Code insists the officers could have opted for pepper spray, a Taser, or even their batons to subdue Conrad. Instead, the cops violated NYPD guidelines for dealing with emotionally disturbed individuals, she claims.
“There were a host of other things they could have done to detain and calm [Conrad] down, instead of pulling out their guns and provoking him during rush hour,” Code’s lawyer, Barry Levin told The Post.
It’s at least the third time in recent years bystanders have been shot as cops tried to subdue people in tourist-heavy Midtown.
There are differing accounts of how the confrontation with Conrad unfolded. Police said a belligerent Conrad was raving outside the Food Emporium, where he argued with workers while trying to buy beer. An officer approached Conrad, who pulled a blade, prompting police to draw their weapons.
But Code claims Conrad was walking away when an officer needlessly tackled him from behind, according to the Manhattan Federal Court claim.
The stagehand did not pose a threat “to anyone” before a cop grabbed his backpack and threw him to the ground, she charges in the legal filing.
Conrad was “killed for no apparent reason, other than the cop was a cowboy,” Levin said.
A grand jury declined to indict the officers involved. Conrad’s family is also suing the city.
Since the shooting, Code claims she’s lost her $200,000-a-year job and a side jewelry business; her right hand and arm are in constant pain and atrophying, and she’s been left with crippling anxiety, depression and flashbacks.
“Her life has literally been destroyed by this incident,” Levin said.
After the shooting, she was treated at a local hospital and flew back to California with the bullet still in her wrist. A hand specialist removed the slug, which had torn through a key nerve, the suit says.
The city will review the complaint, the Law Department said.