TODAY'S PAPER
65° Good Morning
65° Good Morning
Long IslandNassau

Nassau police sued in DiGeronimo shooting

Anthony DiGeronimo's father, David, stands by a police

Anthony DiGeronimo's father, David, stands by a police car as he looks toward his home, where he son was shot and killed by police. (March 14, 2011) Credit: James Carbone

The estate of a knife-wielding man shot to death by Nassau County police last year in Massapequa Park has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in federal court against the county and several officers.

"The Nassau County police officers recklessly used physical and/or deadly force and shot plaintiff's decedent, Anthony DiGeronimo, at close range," the lawsuit said.

The suit seeks unspecified damages from the county, the police department and seven officers for assault, negligence, violation of DiGeronimo's constitutional rights, excessive force and a failure of supervision.

The officers named in the lawsuit are Steven Parry, Shawn Warta, Richard McDonald, Paul Lewis, Keith Jaklitsch, Michael Tedesco and Vincent Neglia.

Nassau police declined to comment. Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli said: "We intend to vigorously defend the suit. Beyond that, we're not commenting."

The suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn by DiGeronimo's estate and assigned to federal Judge Leonard Wexler in Central Islip.

In the March 12, 2011, case, Nassau police received complaints of a knife-wielding man dressed in black on Fourth Street in Massapequa Park. DiGeronimo, an unemployed 21-year-old, refused to drop his weapon and ran into his parents' house, where he barricaded himself in his bedroom, according to police accounts at the time.

After police arrived at the house, his parents said they would try to get him to disarm peacefully, according to a report by the district attorney's office in February. But DiGeronimo burst out of his bedroom wielding his knife and was shot six times by police in the hallway.

Outside the house, a crowd had gathered, including an estimated 15 law enforcement officers from various agencies. Nassau police Bureau of Special Operations Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf, 40, of Selden, dressed in plainclothes and carrying an assault rifle, was mistaken for a threatening civilian and was shot and killed by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Officer Glenn Gentile, who had heard the call over the radio, according to the report.

The report by District Attorney Kathleen Rice concluded that no criminal charges should be brought against Gentile, nor the two Nassau officers involved in the DiGeronimo shooting.

Breitkopf's wife has also filed a federal lawsuit, naming Gentile, his partner, the MTA and a retired NYPD officer on the scene. That lawsuit also names DiGeronimo's parents, David and Joanne, as defendants, alleging that they knew their son had knives and psychological problems, but did nothing.

Tedesco, now retired, has been under investigation by the department on an unrelated matter.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.