The family of a West Babylon man fatally shot by an NYPD cop earlier this month in Farmingdale expressed anger Wednesday that the officer charged with murder was released from jail on a $500,000 bond.
On Tuesday, Acting Supreme Court Justice Robert A. Schwartz set the bond for Errick Allen, 27, of North Massapequa, after the cop's defense attorney, Anthony LaPinta, argued his client acted in self-defense when he shot Christopher Curro, 25, on the night of May 12.
Speaking on behalf of Curro's family, his paternal aunt said the family was "outraged" by the judge's decision.
"We’re so disgusted. We’re supposed to look up to police officers," said Elisa Maiorino, of the Bronx. "They’re supposed to make us feel safe. But this is outrageous. … My nephew had no weapon. It wasn’t self-defense.”
LaPinta said Allen’s surety bond of 10%, or $50,000, was posted Wednesday and Allen was released from jail about 6 p.m.
Allen, a rookie NYPD officer based at the 109th Precinct in Queens, pleaded not guilty last week to a second-degree murder charge in the killing of Curro, his childhood friend.
Prosecutor Joshua Gradinger has said Allen, who was off-duty at the time, shot Curro, a pizza delivery driver, five times with his police-issued 9 mm handgun, including one bullet fired at “extremely close range.”
Allen left the scene and failed to render aid or call 911 before returning with his stepfather about a half-hour later and confessing to the shooting, Gradinger said. LaPinta, in successfully pushing for bail, said his client told cops the night of the shooting that Curro was “banging [Allen's] head on the ground." LaPinta also cited 40 photographs taken of Allen by Nassau police detectives showing injuries suffered by his client on the night of the shooting.
Schwartz cited LaPinta’s arguments, including Allen’s lack of a criminal record and the fact that he didn’t flee the area during the police investigation, as his reasoning for giving Allen bail.
Maiorino said she thought the judge gave Allen bail because he’s a police officer and his attorney has connections.
“How is this cop able to go home? Because he’s a cop,” Maiorino said. “The judge let him go because he’s represented by one of the top criminal lawyers. It makes a difference, I’m sorry. It’s sometimes not what you know, it’s who you know. The kid is going to have the freedom to go home — it doesn’t matter that he’ll have a bracelet. He’ll be in the luxury of his own home. And my nephew is dead.”
Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for the state’s unified court system, said in an email: “When a Judge chooses to set bail, it is to ensure a defendant's return to court. In this case, Judge Schwartz set a high bail on a defendant with no criminal record, ties to the community and clearly aware of the impending consequences. He was well within his discretion on his decision.”
In a statement, LaPinta said: “Our sympathy goes out to the Curro family. Even in the face of tragedy and unbearable emotions, an accused is presumed innocent and has a right to reasonable bail. We will continue our investigation and efforts to defend Mr. Allen.”
Curro's cousin, Angela Maiorino, also of the Bronx, described him as “my rock” and said they were like “peas and carrots growing up,” riding their bikes together on long summer days. She said her cousin wasn’t violent and described him as “well mannered, responsible” and someone who loved to skateboard, listen to rock and roll and play musical instruments like the drums.
“It’s just sad because I’m a preschool teacher and I teach my kids police are super heroes,” she said. “It’s a disgrace on the NYPD, the fact that they even hired … Errick Allen. It took him a week to get arrested. Why? He’s an NYPD officer, and they’re trying to protect their own. It’s crazy. He fled the scene.”
The NYPD said Wednesday Allen remains suspended without pay.
In a statement, Nassau police Commissioner Patrick Ryder also expressed sympathy for Curro's relatives but defended his department's handling of the investigation.
“My condolences go out to the Curro family during their time of grief and trying circumstances," Ryder said. "Since this incident began, the investigators from the Homicide Squad conducted a complete and thorough investigation along side of the Attorney Generals Office. The arrest was never delayed and was done at the appropriate time."
The office of state Attorney General Letitia James is serving as a special prosecutor in the case pursuant to a 2015 executive order giving the office prosecutorial powers in the deaths of unarmed civilians by law enforcement.