Unjustified: The behind-the-scenes account of how a Nassau cop shot an…

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Toyota Street Affair

Unjustified: Behind the scenes of a cover up

BY GUS GARCIA-ROBERTS AND SANDRA

An off-duty Nassau County officer unlawfully shot and an unarmed cabdriver in Huntington after a night of drinking in according to an NCPD Internal Unit report .

The report, by Newsday, found that Anthony DiLeonardo recklessly a roadside verbal dispute he shot at cabdriver Thomas five times with a Smith Wesson, striking him in the left arm and once in the chest, as the girlfriend sat beside him in the front seat.

The Internal Affairs report said a doctor who DiLeonardo at Huntington Hospital the Feb. 27, 2011 shooting that he was slurring his words, of alcohol and was hostile. However, officers did not perform a sobriety on DiLeonardo, who refused the doctor’s for blood and urine tests.

Anthony DiLeonardo

The off-duty officer fired at Moroughan as the tried to retreat, the Internal report found.

Officer Bienz

Also off-duty, accompanied DiLeonardo on a night of before the incident, the report

Cabdriver Thomas Moroughan

DiLeonardo shot him twice and his nose with blows the gun butt, Nassau Internal report found.

Despite the Affairs investigators finding a ago that DiLeonardo committed acts including assault, use of a firearm and driving while impaired, he has not been criminally and remains a Nassau County officer.

The Internal Affairs reported its findings on July 31, to Police Commissioner Thomas It recommended 19 departmental charges for it found to be 11 unlawful acts and departmental rules violations by

The Internal Affairs Unit five departmental charges be against Nassau police Edward Bienz, DiLeonardo’s companion that evening, on the investigation’s findings of two unlawful and three counts of violating rules .

Both off-duty were found to have in conduct unbecoming an officer and unfit for duty by reason of among other violations of rules. Like DiLeonardo, remains a Nassau County officer.

The report does not whether the officers should be criminally for their conduct, and it not indicate whether the recommended charges were ever

Payroll records reviewed by show that DiLeonardo was $110,316 in 2012, the year the shooting, after making over $118,000 in each of the two years. Bienz was paid in 2012, an increase from the he made in 2011 and $133,025 in

The more than 350 pages of Affairs Unit investigative and evidence contradicts the story told investigators that he his gun to prevent Moroughan from him down with a Toyota cab.

Suffolk County arrested Moroughan the day of the incident on of felony assault and misdemeanor endangerment. Three months a judge granted a motion by the district attorney’s office to the charges. citing evidence the officers had been drinking, and the version of events.

But law enforcement have never publicly that a Suffolk County scene analyst had raised that the altercation happened the way said it did.

New York’s police unions have for their members one of the toughest privacy laws in the nation. as the 50-a law, it allows law agencies to keep hidden the public any record used to an officer’s performance, including misconduct investigations.

Newsday the Internal Affairs investigation the Moroughan shooting in court from a $30 million civil Moroughan filed in U.S. Court in Central Islip the Nassau and Suffolk police both counties and 18 named and supervisors. The Nassau Police Internal Affairs report is the of a yearlong investigation, ordered by Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, and materials from the Suffolk district attorney’s office and the County Police Department.

The is a rare window into how Island’s two biggest law enforcement confidentially handle officer investigations.

Confrontation took on Oakwood Road near of Tippin Drive.

It details the effort to find out really happened in Huntington across the street from L. Stimson Middle School, in a few minutes around the time Saturday night becomes morning. Investigators knew the left in its wake two injured officers, a wounded cabbie no known criminal history and a dotted by three bullet But with different stories why an argument turned into a was difficult to determine.

The Internal report concludes that:


fired at Moroughan and approached his cab gun in hand as the cabbie tried to then beat him about the with the butt of his gun numerous The finding contradicted statements by that Moroughan revved his and tried to run down DiLeonardo, who he only drew his weapon the cab was coming toward him.

signed a sworn statement County homicide detectives for him while he lay in a hospital bed on morphine, two bullets still inside him and a broken nose. Moroughan the Suffolk detectives did not allow him to with an attorney before it. The statement helped exonerate and incriminate Moroughan, and was later to include events that contradicted by the department’s own investigation.

DiLeonardo did not mention drinking in his post-shooting statement, he later Suffolk district attorney that he’d had eight to 10 and Nassau Internal Affairs that he had six drinks. over a 4 ½-hour period before the At least 13 Nassau and Suffolk police officers responding the shooting later said either did not notice any sign DiLeonardo was intoxicated, or that smelled alcohol but could not where the smell was coming None of them reported DiLeonardo if he had been drinking, and did not ask DiLeonardo to submit to a sobriety

Finding

the investigation determined the shooting was unjustified causing the County District Attorney’s to dismiss all charges against Mr. — Nassau County IAU

Within 12 hours of the shooting, County’s Deadly Force Team cleared DiLeonardo of allowing him to continue making after two weeks of paid leave. However, a Suffolk crime scene analyst reported the events couldn’t occurred as DiLeonardo had described, and a district attorney investigator that the shooting was unjustified.

The County Police Department begin its Internal Affairs until 99 days after the The investigators assigned to the case that it was an unusual investigation it started so long after the and relied on materials from law enforcement agencies.

Professor Haberfeld, chair of the Department of Police Science and Criminal Administration at the John Jay College of Justice in Manhattan, said the that DiLeonardo and Bienz their badges, given investigators found, means is something profoundly wrong.

said, This is very to me. A person who is armed and behaves in a way is not responsible should not be kept on the

Commissioner Dale, in a statement to Newsday. wrote of the shooting, in

No criminal wrongdoing was found. I have an active internal investigation open regarding incident, and there is a pending trial in Suffolk County. two factors prevent me from further about this at this time. It is important to that departmental sanctions can be as as criminal proceedings.

Dale to answer questions about the

Nassau Police Department Kenneth Lack, after informed that Newsday had the Internal Affairs report, and it indicated it had been completed on 31, 2012, said: Commissioner became aware of the civil and wanted Internal Affairs to the court proceedings in case facts and circumstances presented in order to bring this to conclusion.

Dale, who joined the in January 2012, is battling the union for the authority to discipline employees, rather than police trials go to a mediator.

with Nassau and Suffolk and from the Suffolk Police declined to comment citing the litigation. Bienz declined to and DiLeonardo did not return multiple seeking comment.

Thomas Moroughan with his Kristie Mondo, son Dominic and Anthony Grandinette

Moroughan to be interviewed on the advice of his attorney.

lawsuit alleges police manipulated facts and ignored and evidence to avoid charging with attempted murder, with a deadly weapon, DWI, and other crimes. The claims both the Nassau and police departments condoned and the code of silence in painting the as an attempted cop killer.

Both have denied the lawsuit’s in court filings that say any Moroughan suffered were due to his own

However, the Internal Affairs refers to a March 2012 by Nassau County’s Indemnification that DiLeonardo’s alleged were not committed while in the discharge of said officer(s)’ and within the scope of his/her The same board ruled Bienz’s actions were the scope of his duties.

The Nassau Affairs investigation does not address the allegations in Moroughan’s that officers conspired to DiLeonardo and Bienz at Moroughan’s though two Suffolk detectives did that they were not by their Nassau counterparts to the cabdriver.

Suffolk County Attorney Thomas Spota criminal charges have not filed against any of the involved because Moroughan and his girlfriend to speak to his investigators. There significant deficiencies in our ability to this case to a grand and, if an indictment was rendered the police officer, prove his of any crime beyond a reasonable Spota said.

Spota his office contacted the Nassau Police Department and suggested its Affairs Unit conduct its own investigation in order to determine discipline was appropriate.

Anthony Moroughan’s civil attorney, in an interview the only reason charges haven’t been is because the people who committed the offenses are police officers.

murder, reckless endangerment, first degree, Grandinette Do you think, for a second, that you or I be under arrest for all those That’s why this case is

Police response

Nassau’s Affairs investigators found DiLeonardo’s call to 911 at 1:15 on Feb. 27, 2011, followed a confrontation that he had recklessly into an unlawful shooting.

DiLeonardo identified himself as an Nassau County cop to the 911 operator, he a white Toyota Prius had tried to run him down and that stole his gun.

In fact, later found DiLeonardo had dropped his weapon on the backseat of the cab after smashing it through the side window and then the butt of the gun to break the cabbie’s

On the 911 call, DiLeonardo — then 27 and in his year with the department — police code 10-78, means officer in danger.

The code brought a cavalcade of vehicles to the intersection of Tippin and Oakwood Road in Huntington Ambulances raced in from as far as Commack, and at least 21 Suffolk and County police officers a scene that one Suffolk described later to investigators as chaotic.

The report states DiLeonardo’s arm was bleeding and that he was walking in circles and thought he had shot. He told paramedics he had been in an exchange of gunfire.

then-25-year-old fellow officer, who was in his fourth year with the said he was also struck by the and was reported to be shaken up, according to a by Suffolk police Det. Favatta. The two cops appeared to be in Favatta reported.

The officers had in two civilian cars and were by DiLeonardo’s girlfriend and Bienz’s

Because the incident occurred in Station, the Suffolk County Department handled the initial Even though two nearby had called 911 on the night of the shooting, an eyewitness, a Suffolk County said he canvassed the neighborhood night in an ultimately unsuccessful for witnesses.

At the hospital, more 30 Nassau and Suffolk County personnel, including four of the Nassau police officers crowded the emergency room.

The Nassau Internal Affairs shows Bienz acknowledged he had been drinking and notes he was cooperative.

Detective Ronald

Dr. Beverly Kraszewski’s medical which are included in the investigation, that DiLeonardo wasslurring at times with smell of on breath, and that he was sweating and had eyes. Kraszewski referred to him as and noted his psychiatric insight and to be impaired.

The medical reports that DiLeonardo, who was dizzy and and emotional, stated he thought he was and that he may have passed He ranked the level of pain he was as a 10 out of 10.

But he wasn’t shot, just A doctor, taking account of injuries, adjusted his pain to a 4 out of 10.

Moroughan, DiLeonardo’s accused lay in an emergency room bed at the same undergoing treatment for two gunshot He ranked his level of pain as a 9 out of 10. submitted blood and urine and tested clean for drugs and

The Nassau Internal Affairs shows that Suffolk Ronald Tavares and Charles interviewed Moroughan at the hospital. One of the wrote a sworn statement for and asked him to sign it. The statement that Moroughan had been and waived, his rights.

Cabdriver’s

Moroughan would later the Internal Affairs investigators he asked to see a lawyer but was prevented seeing one by Suffolk detectives.

Commissioner

Risco Mention-Lewis

godmother is Risco Mention-Lewis, who at the was a Nassau County assistant attorney and has since become commissioner of the Suffolk County Department. She arrived at the hospital to Moroughan and was interviewed after the by Internal Affairs investigators for Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

In an with Suffolk County Affairs investigators, she recalled her godson loudly ask for an attorney.

told officers at the hospital she not act as Moroughan’s attorney, based on relationship. A Suffolk County officer stopped her from with Moroughan, she later investigators.

Mention-Lewis also Nassau County investigators she overheard a nurse and a doctor that the officer was drunk, she didn’t specify which

Mention-Lewis, Tavares and Leser did not calls seeking comment.

County’s investigators would note that when detectives asked Moroughan to the statement, he was under the influence of as a pain medication and after he was twice and had one bullet still in his and one in his left arm.

Moroughan Internal Affairs investigators he did not the statement before signing it the Suffolk detectives told him to so they could let him rest .

Moroughan and criminal defense William Petrillo in 2011

to the Nassau Internal Affairs Mr. Moroughan stated he has since the statement and the majority of it is not true.

was arrested and charged with assault and second-degree reckless Det. Leser and Suffolk Det. Sgt. William who supervised the case, both investigators later that had not been pressured by Nassau to arrest Moroughan.

It was only he was officially arrested that County cops allowed to meet with Mention-Lewis, to her interview with Nassau

I don’t know why he shot me, a Moroughan told Mention-Lewis, to her Nassau County Internal interview. He shot me for no reason.

said he feared for his life

The shows that DiLeonardo Huntington Hospital roughly hours after he’d By 7 a.m. he was at Suffolk’s Second in Huntington to write a statement how he shot Moroughan only to the cabdriver from running him

I was in fear of my life, DiLeonardo

DiLeonardo described the situation to in March 2012, a year the incident, with more than in his initial statement on the day of the In that later interview, said Moroughan erupted a murderous rage for no apparent

DiLeonardo said he and Bienz had their cars to the side of Road after Bienz got That’s when Moroughan, girlfriend Kristie Mondo in the front passenger seat, up to the off-duty cops and yelled, going to teach you how to drive now, DiLeonardo said.

As the cabdriver continued yelling, said he rolled up his window to him.

Moroughan then out of his cab, DiLeonardo said, and his vehicle, holding his left in a way that suggested that he have had a weapon. DiLeonardo Moroughan yelled, I’m to smash your car and I’m to kill you.

Finding

troubling is the fact that PO appeared to have unholstered his gun he started to approach the cab, and when he was in his own car. — County Police IAU

After March 2012 interview investigators, Nassau Internal detectives noted that he had not in his February 2011 statement Moroughan threatened to kill him or his car, and neither had any other

In the later interview, DiLeonardo he stepped out of his vehicle to protect and his girlfriend. Then Moroughan, that he was going to kill climbed back into his revved his engine twice and accelerated toward him, said.

DiLeonardo said he the firearm strapped to his ankle and Stop, police, don’t

He reported that he positioned his for maximum precision. He was confident in his and that he would be able to hit the and not harm anyone else, Mondo in the passenger seat.

said he fired the five in his gun and continued pulling the trigger after the gun was empty.

Two of the shots hit A third went through the on the passenger side, into the armrest in the backseat, and was never Two other shots missed the cab including one bullet that was not

With the cab now stopped, DiLeonardo he pulled the badge from his again verbally identified as a cop and smashed the cab’s driver window with the butt of his gun Moroughan refused to unlock the As he tried to pull Moroughan out of the DiLeonardo said he was met with curses and the cabdriver’s threat, going to kill you.

then ripped the gun from his and sped in reverse. dragging the cop alongside the vehicle. DiLeonardo he freed himself and tried to run but Moroughan struck him and Bienz the cab as it fled the scene.

Finding

Toyota Street Affair

investigation has determined that PO cannot allege the use of deadly force to affect an arrest or an escape because at the time he the first shot Mr. Moroughan was not and had not committed any crime. — County Police IAU

Taking look

Nassau County’s Force Response Team DiLeonardo’s shooting as justified, as fact that Moroughan to drive his vehicle directly at

The report made no mention of the drinking that night. It All officers involved were fit for

DiLeonardo and Bienz filed compensation claims, each of writing statements attesting they were hurt in the of my official duties. The employer’s compensation report states missed 12 work days on sick leave for lacerations on his middle finger and his left Bienz’s workers’ compensation states he received 10 paid days with bruising and to his legs, pelvis and body.

A review of state conviction shows that less a month after shooting DiLeonardo was back on the road DWI arrests.

But while he’d initially cleared by his own agency, County officials were a more rigorous look at the

On March 4, 2011 — just days after the shooting — the County district attorney’s took over the investigation the Suffolk Police Department’s squad.

The Nassau officers publicly backed DiLeonardo Moroughan’s criminal defense called on Suffolk’s district to release records that show DiLeonardo and Bienz had drinking before the shooting.

Any allegation of any alcohol is intended as a from the defendant’s actions, County Police Benevolent president James Carver Newsday in March 2011.

Krivosta

Suffolk County Lab analyst

Whether the officers had drinking became just one of questions after Suffolk Crime Lab analyst George completed a reconstruction of the shooting the month

He reported that follow[ed] on foot when climbed back into his after the verbal altercation.

DiLeonardo and the Deadly Force Team described Moroughan his Prius engine before at the officer, Krivosta described the system of the hybrid as extremely

The unusual operation of the car cast on any witness who reported that taxi revved its engine,’ County police investigators in their own Internal Affairs after reviewing Krivosta’s

Krivosta also found it would have been for DiLeonardo to have drawn his from an ankle holster in a reaction to an oncoming vehicle, as the had stated.

Most troubling is the that PO DiLeonardo appeared to unholstered his gun before he started to the cab, and possibly when he was in his own the Nassau County Internal report states. There is to suggest that Mr. Moroughan or Ms. might have been or that they posed any beyond the use of foul language. there appears to be no reason for PO who unquestionably was consuming alcohol evening, to have unholstered his before he started to approach the

NCPD Investigation

With the dropped against Moroughan on 6, 2011, the Nassau Police began its own investigation.

The police that before the shooting, and his girlfriend met Bienz and his wife 8 p.m. at Black Forest Haus in Farmingdale.

According to a database of convictions, both handled drunken driving DiLeonardo has made at least 20 DWI since joining the force in 2007. Bienz has made at 65 such arrests since in January 2007.

Bienz drove a blue 2008 and DiLeonardo drove his girlfriend’s 2011 Infiniti, to Huntington. The barhopped on foot from to the Huntington Village Tavern to the Dodger.

Bienz recalled eight beers that and said DiLeonardo had at least cocktails. DiLeonardo told he drank Jameson Irish and pineapple juice, and also had water.

Around 1 a.m. the got into their respective to drive home. Because he was with the area, DiLeonardo he arranged to follow Bienz to Turnpike.

That’s when headed toward a taxi crossed paths with the

Moroughan, then 26, had been the 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shift for the Express taxi service for a week. Mondo, who is now his wife, him company in the front seat of the Prius cab.

Cabby: Car cut me off

told investigators that he encountered the men when Bienz’s cut him off and the Infiniti driven by DiLeonardo in behind and passed him with high beams and the horn Moroughan said he flashed his beams at the cars, which ran him off the road, causing him to drive the sidewalk.

Soon afterward, came across the Acura and parked alongside Oakwood He said he pulled his cab up to DiLeonardo’s and stepped onto the street. unaware the men were cops, he he yelled, What the hell are you doing? You are driving like morons.

Moroughan said the continued until both and Bienz got out of their cars. he was outnumbered, he said he climbed behind the wheel of his cab and drove in to get away as DiLeonardo approached the

Then, from about 50 away, Moroughan said he saw lift his hand. Bullets the cab’s windshield. One hit Moroughan in the Another struck his arm. A ripped through the passenger where Mondo sat.

As he and tried to take cover the dashboard, Moroughan said appeared at his driver’s side and smashed the glass with the of his gun. DiLeonardo pistol-whipped the breaking his nose, and then him on the side of his face and head 10 times and tried to pull him out of the according to Moroughan.

Mondo reported that the passenger seat, she screamed at to leave them alone.

In a statement to investigators a year the shooting, DiLeonardo denied pistol-whipping Moroughan. I did not deliberately him in the nose with the butt of my he wrote, adding that the ripped his gun from him. I did not it or lose it.

Moroughan said he the cab into reverse, knocking to the ground. For the first time, said DiLeonardo identified by yelling, Stop, stop, a cop, stop!

He later investigators it seemed unlikely DiLeonardo was a police officer.

drove himself to Huntington while Mondo called 911 on her to report what had happened.

DiLeonardo, Bienz’s wife investigators the taxi started towards DiLeonardo. DiLeonardo’s stated she heard the cab rev its engine. And stated that he saw Moroughan get the cab and drive at DiLeonardo before the rang out.

But after the against Moroughan were Bienz did not say in a March 2012 with Internal Affairs that the cab had accelerated toward

Instead, Bienz said the cab up and he did not hear the revving of an engine. He DiLeonardo start firing, he

Bienz told the Internal investigators that following the he barked at DiLeonardo, Dude, the did you just do?

Charges dismissed; removed

When Suffolk District Attorney Raphael asked District Court Gaetan Lozito to drop the charges against Moroughan on 6, 2011, he said there was that the officers involved had consuming alcoholic beverages to the shooting.

Pearl did not publicly at the hearing that parts of story had been contradicted by the scene analyst’s report.

Internal Affairs Unit its investigation into the shooting on the day the charges were dropped Moroughan. A week later, was put on restricted assignment, according to a Police Department personnel filed in Moroughan’s lawsuit.

The barred DiLeonardo from patrol or as a school crossing But it allowed him to perform seven functions, including clerical physical contact with operate an unmarked police work uniformed full and earn overtime.

The department restricted his access to firearms, ‘NO WEAPONS — ADMINISTRATIVE on the document. Detectives removed DiLeonardo’s home six weapons: 9 mm semiautomatic handguns and two .38-caliber The report does not state the guns have been to him.

A month into the Nassau County Internal investigators interviewed the Huntington residents who had called 911 as the shooting Both Suffolk County detectives and Nassau County’s Force Response Team had not the three witnesses in the immediate of the shooting.

One eyewitness watched the unfold just outside the of his house. He corroborated the version of casting DiLeonardo as the aggressor.

I out of my front picture window and I saw a man a gun walking towards a white car was stopped in the middle of the road, his says. The man with the gun was shooting his gun at the of the car.

With Adam

Interactive graphic by Michael Matthew Cassella, James Matthew Hogeboom, Anthony C. Rod and Arnold Miller.

Toyota Street Affair
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