HARLEM, N.Y. (CBS 2) — The man shot 23 times in a police-involved shooting at a Harlem block party is out of intensive care Thursday.
Angel Alvarez has been at Harlem Hospital since the shooting last Sunday, when Alvarez and Luis Soto were allegedly wrestling over an illegal revolver.
Soto was killed when police opened fire with 46 shots on Lenox Ave.
On Monday, Alvarez had recovered enough to use head nods and gestures Monday to tell his lawyer his version of an argument at a Harlem block party gone terrible terribly wrong.
“I asked him whether he had a gun, he said no. I asked him whether he fired any shots and he indicated no,” attorney John Carney said.
Alvarez’s argument with Luis Soto after the party ended with Soto dead and cops firing 46 times. CBS 2’s Lou Young reports Police Commissioner Ray Kelly conceded on Monday night that Alverez was wrestling with Soto over an illegal .38 revolver when four responding police officers started firing.
Sources tell CBS 2 that the bullet that fatally killed Soto came from a police officer’s weapon.
Kelly said there are conflicting reports over which man had possession of the weapon as they fought. Who fired that gun also remains unclear. Police said that two bullets from the .38 were fired at a police officer, which is when, police said, as many as six cops responded.
“We have witnesses that say that Luis Soto had a gun. We have witnesses that say there was a struggle with Alvarez over the gun and witnesses that say Angel Alvarez had the gun in his possession,” Kelly said.
In the shootout:
* A sergeant fired 16 times
* A police officer also fired 16 times
* Another fired 12 times
* And the cop who was originally shot at fired twice
* The “Soto” gun was fired four times
* It’s unclear whether Alvarez or Soto fired it, since there were no fingerprints recovered
* Soto was left for dead, hit five times. Only one bullet was recovered from his body and it came from a police gun
There are questions being raised about the use of deadly force, but John Jay College’s Dr. Maria Haberfeld said the police appeared to act properly. Hearing shots they had to stop the shooter.
“They have to stop the shooter because you just don’t know where it’s going. It can be one shooter, can be another shooter obviously shooting in a crowded situation. They will be victims,” Haberfeld said.
“The first obligation is to stop the shooter.”
However, 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports Mayor Michael Bloomberg was furious Monday over the illegal gun that was brought to the party.
“Let’s not forget the first and foremost thing, somebody came with a gun that you’d only use to kill somebody. They did kill … somebody got killed, and the police who are putting their lives on the line to protect us were in the line of fire,” Bloomberg said. “There’s no place for guns, or knives, or violence at any city event or any event that takes place in the city.
“The story is too many illegal guns on the street, people wanting to kill other people and our cops putting their lives on the line so you and I can go about our business safely. We will not tolerate it and we will make sure that we keep doing what we have been doing. We’ve added an awful lot of impact officers. We’ve added an awful lot of overtime to keep this city safe and we’re gonna keep doing it.”
Asked if there should be a curfew on large parties, the mayor replied: “In some neighborhoods they have had a tradition of partying. We don’t want to take away people’s rights to enjoy themselves.”
The case is being handled by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, but sources tell CBS 2 it may take a while to sort out because it’s very complicated and involved a lot of people.
The district attorney has not filed charges against Alvarez or anyone else at this time.