WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A suspended New York City police officer was expected to plead guilty Tuesday in an off-duty ambush shooting of an innocent civilian last year.
CBS2’s Lou Young spoke exclusively Tuesday with the victim, who said he wants Officer Brendan Cronin to receive jail time or a full trial.
“Very few people get shot six times and survive,” said Joe Felice.
Felice recounted his improbable survival when the off-duty officer allegedly shot him at a stoplight in Pelham in April 2014.
The attack left one arm, and Felice’s very life, dangling by a thread as his friend, Rob Borelli, raced to a hospital.
Felice recalled the fear of losing everything.
“I remember yelling: ‘You have to save me! I have a 3-year-old!’” Felice said tearfully, “and that was probably the worst part of the ordeal — knowing you’re dying is worse than death itself.”
Cronin was expected to enter a plea Tuesday to the attack, which he said came during an alcohol blackout on the night of April 29, 2014 – after a day of police weapons training and heavy drinking.
There was anger among the victims that the plea took so long.
“I feel like we have to fight the system every step of the way to get justice that should be so obvious and so forthcoming,” said Felice’s wife, Patricia Scalfani.
The victims never saw Officer Cronin at the scene in Pelham, but surveillance video reportedly shows the officer getting out of his parked car with the victims stopped at the light. Cronin allegedly has his service weapon in his hand in the video, and he allegedly walks up, turns, and empties it into their vehicle.
“I heard a loud popping noise, then just I felt like my arm exploded,” Felice said.
Felice’s attorney said the attempted murder charge could get Cronin 25 years in prison if it went to trial.
“What’s his story? ‘I was drunk.’” Said attorney Randolph McLaughlin of the firm Newman & Ferrara. “Well, who got you drunk? No one forced the liquor down your throat; you did that voluntarily and it’s no excuse for the horrible crime you committed.”
The victims are willing to settle for half the maximum, but said they will feel cheated at anything less.
Cronin as of Monday remained suspended with pay pending the outcome of the case. Meanwhile, Felice and Borelli have sued the NYPD, claiming Cronin got drunk with his own supervisor at City Island bars near the police training facility.