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Widow of slain Nassau cop killed by friendly fire settles lawsuit

Paula Breitkopf, widow of fallen Nassau County Police

Paula Breitkopf, widow of fallen Nassau County Police Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf, has reached a confidential settlement with the MTA, a lawyer says. She is pictured Nov. 9, 2013. Credit: Steve Pfost

The widow of a Nassau police officer killed in 2011 in a friendly fire shooting at a Massapequa Park crime scene has settled a lawsuit she brought against the MTA and others over her husband's death, one of her attorneys said Friday.

The wrongful-death suit that Paula Breitkopf of Selden filed in Central Islip in March 2012 sought unspecified damages against a number of parties, including Metropolitan Transportation Authority Police Officer Glenn Gentile -- who fatally shot Geoffrey Breitkopf -- the MTA and retired New York City Police Officer John Cafarella.

"We are very pleased to have reached a settlement in this anguishing case," Jeffrey Kimmel, a Manhattan attorney for Breitkopf's family, said in a statement. "With this, the family . . . can take comfort that justice was served and begin the healing process. Officer Breitkopf will be remembered for his bravery and heroism in the line of duty."

The settlement will be paid by the MTA on behalf of Gentile, Cafarella and the estate of Anthony DiGeronimo, a masked, knife-wielding man who also was shot dead at the chaotic crime scene on March 12, 2011. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

"This incident was a tragedy for everyone involved, and settling this legal claim was in the best interest of everyone involved," MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said in a statement.

Breitkopf, 40, a member of Nassau's Bureau of Special Operations, was killed as he approached the area where police had fatally shot DiGeronimo, who allegedly had threatened officers at a home on Front Street.

A 2012 report by then-Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice on Breitkopf's shooting found no criminality by Gentile or the officers who shot DiGeronimo.

The report concluded Gentile had "reasonably" believed Breitkopf, who was in plainclothes, armed with a police-issued M-4 assault rifle and not displaying his police badge, posed a threat.

But Paula Breitkopf's suit maintained her husband had been wearing his badge "hanging on a lanyard."

Her lawyers argued that MTA police officers at the scene should have deferred to Nassau police, while Cafarella, who had no official role at the scene, had helped to confuse the situation by shouting "gun" as Breitkopf approached the house.


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