Attorneys for an unarmed cabdriver shot in Huntington Station by an off-duty Nassau police officer say investigators "fabricated evidence and falsified reports" in the case and have asked a judge to add the allegation to their federal lawsuit against Nassau County.
Former Nassau officer Anthony DiLeonardo shot the unarmed cabbie, Thomas Moroughan, on Feb. 11, 2011, after a night of drinking with another off-duty Nassau officer, Edward Bienz, officials have said.
In an Aug. 19 memorandum to federal court Judge Joseph F. Bianco, a lawyer for Moroughan asked him to amend the $30 million suit to include the claim that the Nassau police department's Deadly Force Response Team, which investigates all police-involved shootings, "falsified its report" to "justify an unlawful use of deadly physical force against Moroughan."
After it closed its investigation, the team cleared both DiLeonardo and Bienz of any wrongdoing. A conference on the request is set for next week.
In an email, Nassau County attorney Carnell Foskey said the "claims are frivolous, have no truth to them and all know the department has already taken appropriate action in terminating former Officer DiLeonardo."
In a statement, Moroughan's attorney, Anthony Grandinette, said the department's Deadly Force Response Team had "an unconstitutional pattern and practice of submitting factually false reports to the Commissioner of Police, attempting to justify the unlawful or improper use of deadly physical force. This practice was maintained in an effort to shield individual officers from potential administrative and/or criminal sanctions for their unjustified use of deadly physical force."
DiLeonardo was fired from the force in May -- more than three years after the shooting -- losing his benefits and pension as a result. Moroughan was backing away from DiLeonardo with his pregnant girlfriend in the passenger seat of his cab after a roadside dispute with the officer, according to a 2012 Nassau police internal affairs report. DiLeonardo fired five times at Moroughan with his service revolver, striking him twice, the report said. Moroughan also suffered a broken nose during the encounter, officials said.
In July, the police department created a Deadly Force Review Board to look over the work of the Deadly Force Response Team to determine whether the officer involved complied with department policy, whether training or tactical procedure should be modified and whether disciplinary action should be taken.