The president of Suffolk's largest police union said Tuesday that the officer who shot and killed an unarmed would-be carjacker in Bay Shore is "shaken up by the incident" in which she fought for control of the vehicle that had two children in the backseat.
"She was troubled by the outcome," said Noel DiGerolamo, president of the Suffolk Police Benevolent Association, referring to the nine-year veteran. "I believe she recognized that the conduct of the individual necessitated her actions, but . . . it's not an easy thing for a person to accept when they took the life of another person."
Denzel I. Brown, 21, of Amityville died during surgery after the Sunday night shooting in the driveway of a home on Nevada Avenue, police said.
Police have not yet identified the officer, 34.
The encounter occurred after the officer responded at about 7:45 p.m. to a 911 call reporting a theft of designer headphones at a Best Buy store on Sunrise Highway. A witness directed her to Brown, and the officer chased him to the Nevada Avenue home where he tried to carjack a vehicle in the driveway, police said.
She tried twice to subdue Brown with her Taser. The first time, only one prong hit him, "rendering the Taser ineffective," Suffolk Chief of Department James Burke said. Inside the vehicle, she used the Taser to "drive-stun" Brown by applying the shock to his neck, but he kept fighting, Burke said.
Just before she opened fire in the front seat, the officer was repeatedly dragged by the slow-moving vehicle as Brown tried to drive away. The two boys, 4 and 6, were not injured.
The officer was alone, but other officers arrived moments after the shooting to help restrain Brown when he resisted despite his injury, Burke said.
They arrived "in an adequate amount of time, but every minute is longer than you'd want to spend fighting with someone who is refusing to comply and attempting to kidnap children," DiGerolamo said. "Unfortunately that's the nature of police work."
DiGerolamo said union officials are communicating with the officer "nonstop." Barring emotional or physical issues, she will return to work after a mandatory medical evaluation, Suffolk police officials said.
Burke praised the Third Precinct officer Monday for her heroism. He said there is an "active and ongoing" investigation but the shooting was justified.
The findings will be forwarded to the Suffolk district attorney's office, Burke said.
A Suffolk district attorney spokesman did not respond to a request for comment, but DiGerolamo defended the use of force and said union counsel will represent the officer.
"This is a legitimate incident where she had to take police action," he said. "I don't see this as anything other than her displaying heroic actions and saving two children."
The inability of the officer's Taser to subdue Brown followed a similar encounter March 11 in Huntington Station.
Suffolk Officer Mark Collins used a stun gun on a fleeing suspect that night, but the weapon didn't stop the man, Sheldon Leftenant, who shot and wounded Collins, police said.
The department "considers the Taser a reliable, effective, less lethal force option," Burke said. "However, it is not effective on all individuals under all circumstances."