Reporting Juliet Papa
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – An ex-con accused of shoving a New York City police officer to his death during a domestic violence call in Boerum Hill last month has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports: Attorney, family say defendant is innocent
Villanueva’s mother, Josefa, fell to her knees and proclaimed her son’s innocence. She wore a large black rosary around her neck and carried a photo of Jesus and a Bible. She called the precinct officers liars.
“My son is innocent,” she cried in Spanish. “I swear by the Bible.”
PBA President Pat Lynch crowded the courtroom with police officers to show support for their slain colleague.
“We’re here to make sure justice is served,” Lynch said. “We will be here for every court appearance.”
“This individual will pay what he’s supposed to pay for the death of my son,” Schabarger’s father, Paul, said.
On March 13, Schaberger fell nine feet down a cement stairwell, landing on his head and breaking his neck while responding to a 911 call from Villanueva’s girlfriend who said the suspect had threatened to kill her.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Villanueva had one handcuff on his wrist when he allegedly pushed Schabarger with both hands.
However, Villanueva’s attorney says the officer lost his footing because he was knocked by another officer.
“[Villanueva] never lunged at the officer who went over the rail, or pushed him over the rail,” attorney Kleon Andreadis said.
Police said Villanueva had a long rap sheet including 28 arrests, mostly for burglary and robbery. He apparently also had a history of problems with his girlfriend, including a dozen calls to police in recent years.
Prosecutors say Villanueva violated at least four restraining orders that called for him to leave his girlfriend alone.
Villanueva was also indicted on charges including assault.
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