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Prosecutor: No charges to be filed in fatal NY friendly fire police shooting
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (AP) ' No criminal charges will be filed in a friendly fire shooting that claimed the life of a police officer on Long Island, a county prosecutor said Tuesday.
The office of Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice investigated the March 2011 shooting of Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf. He was killed by a police officer from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority who apparently mistook him for a possible suspect.
"Although the results were unquestionably tragic, criminal charges under these circumstances would be legally unsustainable," said Rice.
Breitkopf was a member of the elite Bureau of Special Operations and was in street clothes when he was shot.
The shooting occurred after other Nassau police officers shot an emotionally disturbed, knife-wielding man inside his home in Massapequa Park, about 40 miles east of New York City.
A neighbor reported that she was backing out of her driveway when the suspect, wearing dark clothing and a hockey mask, jumped on the hood of her car. When officers arrived, they found 21-year-old Anthony Digeronimo with knives strapped to his body and in his hands.
The officers followed as Digeronimo ran into his own house up the street. Officers say the suspect briefly barricaded himself in a bedroom before he emerged and charged officers with a knife. The officers drew their weapons and killed him.
Several minutes later, backup arrived, including Bureau of Special Operations officers in plainclothes, and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officers who normally patrol the nearby Long Island Rail Road.
An MTA officer fired one shot at Breitkopf, who was just arriving at the scene and had a rifle slung under his arm.
Nassau County PBA President James Carver said afterward that someone had yelled "gun" moments before the shooting.
It was the first of two suspected friendly fire shooting deaths in the county last year. On New Year's Eve, a federal agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was killed when he tried to intervene in a pharmacy robbery in Seaford. Neither police nor prosecutors have publicly commented on that shooting since it happened, citing an ongoing investigation.