NYPD Sgt. Kevin Brennan's shooter guilty of attempted murder
Brooklyn jurors Wednesday found Luis Ortiz guilty of attempted murder for firing a bullet into the head of NYPD Sgt. Kevin Brennan of Garden City Park.
Jurors took less than three hours to deliver their verdict of guilty on all 11 counts in the indictment, which included the murder of Shannon McKinney, whom Ortiz shot during a robbery on New Year's Day 2012 outside a busy supermarket.
Using the same handgun, Ortiz a month later would shoot Brennan in the head after the sergeant and other undercover police officers chased him into a Bushwick, Brooklyn, housing project apartment building on Jan. 31, 2012.
Brennan chased Ortiz, 23, up several flights of stairs before tackling him. As the two struggled, Ortiz fired his gun, hitting Brennan in the side of the head.
An emergency room surgeon testified during the trial that the bullet pressed up against Brennan's skull, which protected the brain from further injury. But it took a year of rehabilitation for Brennan, 29, to recover and return to duty. He has suffered lifelong injuries to his spinal cord, and his peripheral vision was severely impaired.
Reaction to the guilty verdict was restrained, with silent tears of emotion coming from Brennan's family and friends.
Brennan bowed his head as he listened to each guilty verdict and smiled when he heard guilty for the attempted murder charge. Tears rolled down the face of his wife, Janet, who pressed her face into her husband's shoulder.
At the defendant's table, Ortiz sat motionless as the guilty verdicts were read by the jury forewoman to the charges of murder, attempted murder, possession of a firearm and robbery.
Ortiz attempted to look at the jury during the reading but instead turned away to hide his face from newspaper photographers who were taking his picture.
Outside the courtroom, family and friends hugged prosecutor Lew Lieberman for his victory. Then Brennan embraced him.
"It was a long haul, man," Lieberman told Brennan, who smiled as he hugged the prosecutor back.
"Justice was served," Lieberman said later. "Kevin Brennan and his family are very special people."
In closing arguments earlier in the week, defense lawyer Kevin Burke tried to poke holes in the police investigation. He said, "Mr. Ortiz is a victim of a police conspiracy."
"Kevin Brennan sat on that witness stand and testified about the most terrible moment in his life," Melissa Carvajal, assistant district attorney, said in her closing arguments. "He identified Mr. Ortiz. Don't you think that he sees that face every day of his life?"
Ortiz faces 25 years to life in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 23.