NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Lawyers for two men who say they were shot at and nearly killed by a drunken, off-duty New York Police Department officer announced Tuesday they are filing two lawsuits totaling $90 million over the apparently random incident.
Robert Borrelli and his teammate Joseph Felice were headed home from a hockey game when Officer Brendan Cronin allegedly fired 14 shots at the men at random as they sat in a car at a Pelham intersection on April 29, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
Borrelli was not injured, but Felice was shot six times and nearly died.
“As fast as they were pumping blood into his body, that’s as fast as blood was coming out. He almost bled out that night,” said attorney Randolph McLaughlin. “It’s a miracle that both men didn’t die.”
McLaughlin said Felice and Borrelli filed notices of claim for a total of $90 million against Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, New York City, Cronin and several fellow officers who they say were drinking with Cronin in the hours before the shooting.
The lawsuit alleges Cronin spent the day undergoing advanced car stop training at the police shooting range at Rodman’s Neck in the Bronx, CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.
The suit goes on to claim Cronin and his supervisor went out drinking during their lunch break and continued drinking after their work day was done, Young reported.
Cronin was alone, parked on a street in Pelham when the victims drove up hours later. The officer claims he blacked out and remembers nothing about the shooting.
The victim’s lawyers said the incident is an outgrowth of the NYPD’s refusal to deal with the problem of alcohol abuse within its ranks.
“This was one of the worst in a long line of incidents involving drunk New York City police officers,” said attorney Debra Cohen.
Cronin was off duty at the time of the alleged incident, but McLaughlin said the city is responsible.
“We’re putting the city on notice. We’re frankly saying to Mayor de Blasio, ‘You need to address this problem, you need to put an end to it,'” McLaughlin said. “We think it’s time for the City of New York to take responsibility and step up to the plate and make sure that this is the last off-duty or on-duty police officer who abuses alcohol and abuses his weapon.”
Cronin is currently charged with first-degree assault. A Westchester County grand jury is weighing attempted murder charges against Cronin, Diamond reported.
Asked about the case Tuesday, Bratton said Cronin had been suspended and wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit, which he said was “not unexpected.” Bratton would not describe any possible departmental charges that might be brought.
The New York City Law Department declined to comment.
“What happened to Rob and me was a random act of violence committed by a ruthless man,” Felice said in a statement. “This could have happened to anyone. Today’s filing is a necessary step to hold Officer Cronin and the NYPD fully accountable for the actions that almost cost me my life.”
“I honestly don’t know how we survived this unprovoked ambush or why he chose to single out Joe and myself for his vicious rampage,” Borrelli said.
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