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2 men shot at by drunk NYPD cop sue city, department

In this undated photo provided by Newman Ferrara

In this undated photo provided by Newman Ferrara LLP, Joseph Felice lies in a hospital bed with six bullet wounds after being shot by an off-duty New York City police officer in Pelham, N.Y. on April 29, 2014. Credit: AP

Two men attacked last year in Pelham on their way home from a hockey game by a drunken off-duty New York City cop who shot up their car and wounded one of them have filed suit against the city and the NYPD for failing to rein in alcoholism in the ranks.

The lawsuits filed by driver Robert Borelli and passenger Joseph Felice, who was shot six times, said Officer Brendan Cronin had been drinking both during and after a day of in-service training on "dynamic vehicle takedowns" at the NYPD's Rodman's Neck facility.

Cronin, 28, of Yonkers, who faces attempted murder charges, has claimed he was "black out" drunk and re-enacting his training exercises, say the suits, which claim there have been "countless" episodes of alcohol-induced misconduct and violence by cops.

"Although Brendan Cronin pulled the trigger, long-standing policies, procedures and practices of the city and the NYPD proximately caused the injuries," the suits say. "For at least two decades there has been an accepted alcohol culture in the NYPD and . . . deliberate indifference to adopt and/or enforce adequate policies."

Cronin allegedly drank during lunch at his Rodman's Neck firearms training on April 29, 2014, got his Glock 9-mm service pistol back at day's end, and then had at least 10 Jameson whiskey shots with beer at a bar with a supervisor and other trainees.

He opened fire on Borelli and Felice, both of New Rochelle, in Westchester County, who had stopped at a light returning from a recreational hockey game, shooting into their car 14 times. Felice was hit six times in the back, arm and chest, and a bullet fragment lodged in his head.

The lawsuits said official indifference to alcohol use at the Rodman's Neck facility in the Bronx is long-standing, but the overall problem is broader, citing 26 different incidents of alcohol-related misconduct by NYPD officers since 2009.

The list includes incidents last year when a drunk officer shot his partner in the wrist, and another case where an intoxicated cop triggered a fatal head-on collision driving the wrong way on the New York State Thruway near Suffern.

"Alcohol abuse has been a long-standing but unaddressed problem and has led to many incidents involving police officers driving while intoxicated and misusing their service weapons," said Debra Cohen, a lawyer for the two men.

The lawsuits say they are seeking both compensatory and punitive damages, but do not state a dollar amount. A notice of claim filed with the city last year pegged the damages at up to $90 million. A spokesman said the city law department would review the lawsuit when it is received. The NYPD and a lawyer for Cronin did not respond to requests for comment.

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