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NYPD: Michael Verbitsky, charged with assault on police officer, claims accidental shooting

Michael Verbitsky, 19, is arraigned at criminal court

Michael Verbitsky, 19, is arraigned at criminal court in Manhattan on Monday, Aug. 24, 2015. Verbitsky was charged with a felony count of assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon and other charges after he allegedly shot a police officer assigned to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's security with a pellet gun. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The 19-year-old Manhattan man charged with shooting a member of Mayor Bill de Blasio's security detail with a BB claimed in court Monday the pellet gun "accidentally discharged" from the 10th-floor apartment he shares with his father across the street from Gracie Mansion.

At an arraignment on several related charges, the lawyer for Michael Verbitsky, of 170 East End Ave., did not enter a plea but will appear before a grand jury, possibly as early as Friday.

Bail was set at $20,000 bond or $10,000 cash; Verbitsky was released after posting bail.

Defense lawyer Howard Levine of the Bronx said at the arraignment that the BB gun "accidentally discharged." Levine said "there is no evidence of targeting. There was no intent to injury anybody."

According to the complaint the pellets from the recovered gun came from a 10th-floor window. According to the complaint the BB gun was found hidden atop ceiling tiles in the apartment.

The assistant district attorney, Lee Langston, said in court Verbitsky tried to flee in an elevator.

Police also found forged identification papers in Verbitsky's apartment; Levine said police violated a search warrant when they recovered the documents. Court papers say the IDs were two New Jersey and one New York driver's licenses.

Levine said his client has lived in the neighborhood all his life.

The bodyguard, a police officer on duty outside the mayor's home, suffered a "very minor" injury when she was hit in the small of the back shortly after 7:15 p.m. Sunday, police said. She was treated briefly at a hospital. The mayor was not present.

Verbitsky was charged with assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon, reckless endangerment, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, three counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and two counts of criminal mischief.

Police said there had been "two previous reports of apparent BB/pellets causing damage" to windows in the area, but did not say if those were related to the mischief charges.

"I obviously was concerned.. . . I spoke to her and she's in fine shape," de Blasio said.

With John Valenti

and Emily Ngo


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