1999 – Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant, was shot and killed in front of his Bronx home by four plainclothes New York City police officers. The officers had been conducting a nighttime search for a rape suspect.

Amadou Diallo Foundation

Amadou Bailo Diallo was born in Liberia on September 2, 1975. He was the eldest of four children born to Kadiatou Diallo and Amadou Saikou Diallo. He is survived by one sister, Laouratou Diallo, and two brothers, Ibrahim, and Abdoul Diallo.

Amadou grew up in Liberia, Guinea, Togo and Thailand. He was a well-rounded child who loved to read. As he grew older, his desire to go to college became of paramount importance to him. He continually encouraged his younger brothers and sister to attend college as well. He firmly believed that an education was key in the achievement of dreams. He enjoyed sports and played soccer and basketball.

Prior to leaving for the United States, he had traveled to many different countries with his family, as well as on his own. In addition to Guinea, Liberia, Togo and Thailand, he had traveled to France, Asia, and Japan. He attended the International School in Thailand, then the Computer Institute in Singapore, which is an affiliate of The Cambridge University of England. He spoke five languages – he was fluent in Fulani (the native language of Guinea), as well as English, French, Spanish and Thai.

In September 1996, Amadou departed for America seeking the opportunity to attend college. He left behind a handwritten note for his mother that had only two lines, “The solution is U.S.A.  Don’t leave my brothers and sister here.”  He believed in the opportunity America promised. Amadou loved the singer Bruce Springsteen, saying he represented the dreams of ordinary people. Amadou would play “Born in the USA” over and over. In a sad twist of fate, it would later be Bruce Springsteen who would write a song about Amadou’s death, “American Skin (41 shots).”

Once in New York, Amadou’s uncle told him to be careful because he had heard of many families in Guinea who had lost their sons to shootings on the streets. Amadou reassured him that the US was very organized when dealing with crime. “It is safe here,” said Amadou. “I am not worried.”

He refused help from his parents because he wanted to make them proud and achieve his success on his own. His immediate goal was to receive a degree in computer science.

He befriended many and always enjoyed conversations that stimulated the intellect as well as the spirit. He was an avid reader and enjoyed his books that ranged from subjects such as physics and technology to one of his favorites, a book titled, Guidelines for Dialogue Between Christians and Muslims.

He lived at 1157 Wheeler Avenue in the Bronx, NY. His three roommates were also from Guinea. On February 4, 1999, he was standing in the vestibule of his building when four plainclothes police officers drove up, got out of their car and shot him 41 times. Nineteen bullets struck him, killing him instantly. The newspapers reported that the cops were patrolling the street looking for a suspect in a series of rapes in the Bronx, but in fact the last rape had been nine months earlier. They reported that Amadou was “acting suspiciously,” and that they thought he had pulled a gun. In fact, he was carrying only a wallet and a pager. The only known witness to the shooting was a woman who gave conflicting eyewitness accounts. Amadou was 23 years old. The four police officers were later acquitted in Albany, New York.

In February 2003, on the fourth anniversary of his murder, city officials and community leaders renamed the block where he lived “Amadou Diallo Place.”

In January 2004, his family and New York City reached a settlement agreement of $3 million.

Amadou’s spirit lives on and guides his mother as she helps others
achieve their dreams with The Amadou Diallo Foundation and the scholarship program established in his memory. To date, 27 scholarships have been awarded.