Nassau police brass have launched an investigation of two Nassau cops in the shooting of a taxi driver in Suffolk and ordered a review of department policy on when it is "appropriate" for off-duty officers to carry guns.
The policy examination was prompted by prosecutors' allegations that those two Nassau police officers, and another off-duty Nassau cop facing charges for drawing a gun in a bar, had been drinking before the incidents.
"In light of recent events, we will be reviewing our policy regarding officers carrying off-duty weapons, and under what circumstances they're appropriate and not appropriate," Nassau police Det. Lt. Kevin Smith said Tuesday.
The order from Acting Nassau police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter to investigate Officer Anthony DiLeonardo and another Third Precinct cop came late Monday, hours after Suffolk prosecutors dropped criminal charges against cabdriver Thomas Moroughan, whom DiLeonardo shot in Huntington on Feb. 27. The second officer has not been identified.
Following a roadside argument, Moroughan, 26, was charged with felony assault after the officers said he drove at them with his taxi.
Krumpter is considering changes to both officers' active-duty status, but no decision has been made, Smith said.
In the other incident, Nassau prosecutors say Officer Richard Hefferon, 46, had downed several drinks at a Farmingdale bar April 26 when he pulled a gun and aimed the loaded pistol at a bartender's head. The confrontation was captured by security cameras. Hefferon pleaded not guilty last week to reckless endangerment.
Department policy does not forbid officers to drink while carrying a weapon and cops are encouraged to carry one while off duty. "In the vast majority of cases, it aids the public because the officer can take police action as the need arises," Smith said.
Smith declined to comment on what, if anything, the officers told investigators about what happened before the shooting.
The Nassau Police Benevolent Association has declined to comment on the incident.
Moroughan's attorney, William Petrillo of Rockville Centre, said Tuesday a civil suit related to the shooting would be filed "in the near future."
The department's investigation "may very well bolster Mr. Moroughan's claims that they acted inappropriately," he said.