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Attorneys in fatal shooting by police in Selden wrap up trial

Kevin Callahan, 26, was killed inside his Selden

Kevin Callahan, 26, was killed inside his Selden home on Sept. 20, 2011, after police responded to a man with a gun call.

Both sides rested Wednesday in the case of a federal civil-rights lawsuit brought against two Suffolk police officers in the shooting death of a Selden man, Kevin Callahan.

Callahan's mother, Patricia, and brother, Christopher, have sued Suffolk Police Officer Thomas Wilson, accusing him of using excessive force in 2011 in shooting Callahan, 26, at least three times, and former Suffolk Police Sgt. Scott Greene, accusing him of failing to provide adequate medical assistance to their relative.

Suffolk County attorneys have said both officers acted properly, and sources have said that a Suffolk County grand jury cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.

Callahan's relatives also sued Suffolk County, claiming it failed to adequately train and supervise police, and also two Suffolk County detectives for, in effect, they say, falsely arresting Patricia Callahan and Christopher Callahan. They claim they were taken to a police station and questioned for several hours but not informed that Kevin Callahan had been killed.

But before the start of the trial Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler ruled that the case against the county will be tried separately. And Wednesday, after the family rested its case, their attorneys, Amy Marion and Bruce Barket, both of Garden City, dropped the claims against the two detectives.

Also, the jury was not allowed to hear, as too prejudicial, that Greene faces criminal hate-crimes charges in Suffolk over accusations he was "targeting" Latinos for traffic stops and then stole cash from them. Greene has pleaded not guilty to those charges.

In testimony Wednesday, Greene said he acted professionally and had to wait until more experienced officers from the emergency service unit arrived at the scene. Time elapsed between the shooting and police entering the room to find Callahan alone, Greene said, because the officers at the scene did not know who was in the room, including the possibility that there might be one or more gunman there.

Both forensic experts for the Callahan family and the police testified Wednesday that two shots hit Callahan in the back and one in the front.

Officer Wilson has said that he went to the Callahan home in response to a report of a man with a gun, and thought he was fighting for his life when he fired the three shots that struck Callahan.

A police report on the case said that Wilson feared for his life because as he entered a room in the basement of the Callahan house with his gun drawn, he saw a man standing sideways. The door then closed on him, trapping him between the door and the doorjamb, Wilson has said.

But in her remarks, Callahan family attorney Marion said Wilson's account was not reasonable. Wilson "walked into a suburban home in broad daylight and shot an unarmed man at point-blank range in the back -- twice -- the muzzle of his gun making contact with the back of Kevin Callahan. No weapon was found on or near Kevin Callahan's body."

The family has not said how much in damages they seek.

Both sides are expected to sum up their cases Thursday, and then the jury of five women and two men is expected to begin deliberations.


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