Court Papers: NYPD Officer Said He Drank Beer, Whiskey Before Pelham Shooting
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New York City policeman accused in the apparently random shooting of a man in the suburbs told police after his arrest that he had downed 10 servings of beer and Irish whiskey, according to court papers released Thursday.
He also told police shortly after the shooting that he didn’t know what had happened, the documents say.
The papers were filed in conjunction with the indictment of Officer Brendan Cronin on charges of attempted murder, assault and drunken driving. The Westchester County district attorney said Cronin, 27, parked his car at an intersection in Pelham on April 29, just before midnight. He then approached a car that was stopped at a traffic light and allegedly fired about 14 shots, hitting the passenger six times.
The victim said he didn’t know Cronin and police said they found no link between the two.
Cronin, who lives in Yonkers, drove off after the shooting but was pulled over by Pelham police. They said Cronin continued to wave his gun out of his car window after being pulled over.
Cronin refused to take an alcohol breath test when he was arrested, and he was originally charged only with assault.
But Pelham police filled out an “alcoholic influence report” based on his answers to questions.
The report says he told investigators he’d been drinking “beer and Jameson.” The question ‘Quantities?” is answered “10.”
Earlier, according to another document, Cronin was asked what had happened.
“The defendant stated he did not know; that he had driven from City island and the next thing he knew was that the police were stopping his vehicle,” the document says.
A call to Cronin’s lawyer, Pierre Sussman, was not immediately returned.
A lawyer for the shooting victim said this week that Cronin had been out drinking with fellow officers before the shooting.
“This was one of the worst in a long line of incidents involving drunk New York City police officers,” said attorney Debra Cohen.
The NYPD did not immediately return a call for comment on Thursday. New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said after the shooting that he was concerned by recent reports of officers drinking inappropriately.
Cronin, who worked in the Bronx, was suspended when he was arrested.
The victim, Joseph Felice, was hit in the chest, back, arm and shoulder, the district attorney said. The driver next to him, Robert Borrelli, was not hit. Both have served notice that they plan to sue New York City and Bratton as well as Cronin and any officers who were drinking with him. The two lawsuits total $90 million.
Cronin was off duty at the time of the alleged incident, but the victims’ attorney Randolph 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 Tuesday. “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.”
“This indictment must be the NYPD’s final wake up call to address the rampant problem of combined alcohol abuse and misuse of service weapons by off-duty officers,” Cohen said Thursday.
Felice, who is still recovering, said the indictment was encouraging but “only the beginning” because he wants to see Cronin imprisoned.
Borrelli said he was pleased “that the grand jury recognized Officer Cronin’s clear intent to kill.”
“I am anxious for this case to proceed and to put this horrible ordeal to rest,” Borrelli said. “A long road lies ahead until justice is served.”
If convicted of murder, Cronin could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.
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