The estranged wife of former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato told police she cowered in a closet of her Lido Beach home with a shotgun she unsuccessfully tried to load before calling 911 in September to report intruders, a Nassau officer testified Monday.
Police Officer Jimmy Lee said Katuria D’Amato told police she was trying to load her 20-gauge shotgun to protect herself before police arrived in the early morning of Sept. 30, but couldn’t find a key to the weapon’s gun lock.
The officer also said Katuria D’Amato was “delusional” and showed “paranoid behavior,” telling police she believed her estranged husband — asleep elsewhere in the home — would let intruders in who then hid behind green laser beams.
Lee’s testimony came on the second day of a Nassau County matrimonial court hearing as state Supreme Court Justice Joseph Lorintz considers whether the former senator should keep temporary custody of the couple’s two young children as the D’Amatos go through divorce proceedings.
Lee told the ex-senator’s attorney, Stephen Gassman, that the woman replayed portions of home surveillance video for police and claimed to see flashes of light on the video that weren’t there.
In October, Lorintz awarded the ex-senator, now 80, temporary custody of the couple’s 7-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. He also ordered Katuria D’Amato to stay away from the three after the ex-senator questioned her mental stability following the police response to their former marital home.
She was admitted to a hospital after police took her there involuntarily after answering her 911 call, which they later classified as a “mental aided” call.
The judge later granted Katuria D’Amato regular visits with the children. Her attorney, Joseph De Simone, has claimed the ex-senator sought the order in retaliation after Katuria D’Amato, a 51-year-old attorney, filed for divorce on Oct. 3.
De Simone also has said previously that Alfonse D’Amato got the custody order based on false pretenses. Before court Monday, he read reporters what he identified as a portion of the ex-senator’s sworn court affidavit — which he said was contradicted by prior police testimony.
The document said: “The officers advised that upon their arrival the defendant had been attempting to load her shotgun.”
But Gassman said outside court later Monday the ex-senator’s claim has been that Katuria D’Amato couldn’t load the shotgun only because she couldn’t find the key.
Lee said during a cross-examination Monday the shotgun had a cable that rendered it inoperable when he took it from a cardboard box in a walk-in closet. The officer also added there were two to four live shotgun rounds and two keys in the same box.
Lee agreed the police report from that day didn’t say Katuria D’Amato had told police she’d been trying to load a shotgun, and while he also didn’t write that in his memo book, he recalled her statement from memory.
The hearing continues Tuesday.