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Prosecutors Say They Won’t File Charges In Friendly-Fire Death Of ATF Agent

ATF Agent John Capano (Courtesy ATF)

ATF Agent John Capano (Courtesy ATF)

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GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New York prosecutor says no criminal charges will be filed in connection with a friendly-fire shootout that left a federal agent dead after a pharmacy robbery.

An investigation by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice concludes two bystanders were justified in using deadly force during the New Year’s Eve robbery in Seaford.

The bystanders were an off-duty New York City police officer and a retired Nassau County police lieutenant. They were in a deli when someone said a robbery was happening nearby.

Extra: Read The Investigation Report (.pdf) 

Agent John Capano, 51, was shot and killed during the robbery in Seaford on Dec. 31, 2011 while picking up a prescription for his father at Charlie’s Family Pharmacy on Merrick Road.

The robbery suspect and Capano, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent, were wrestling for a gun.

Ex-lieutenant Chris Geraghty, who owns the Seaford Deli next to the pharmacy, came upon the scene and through his attorney said he was yelling “We’re police!” and “Who’s the good guy?”

Geraghty joined in the struggle for the pistol, which went off next to his ear, the report indicated. Geraghty then fired, killing Capano. Off-duty NYPD officer Joseph Arbia killed the robbery suspect.

“[Geraghty] thought he shot the perpetrator of this thing. This happened within a matter of 5-10 seconds. He didn’t have to learn that it was his bullet, my client knew. His life will never be the same,” Geraghty’s attorney, Brian J. Davis, said last month.

A security camera captured the pharmacy robbery as cash and hundreds of painkillers were stolen by a career criminal brandishing a pellet gun that appeared to be a .45 caliber pistol.

“Both Arbia and Geraghty acted within the parameters of the justification defense when they responded to reasonably-perceived threats of deadly force against themselves or others,” the report concludes. “Criminal charges in this matter would be unwarranted and unsustainable.”

Do you agree with the conclusion? Offer your thoughts in the comments section below. 

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)