A man careless enough to spit on a Brooklyn subway platform directly in front of police was given a minor summons for a violation and then arrested in connection with a homicide after a records check tied him to a November 2015 killing in East Flatbush, officials said Friday.
Police initially approached Euzebelin Abellard, 33, after one officer thought he recognized him from a police sketch done at the time of the Nov. 20 homicide. The officers had been using their new NYPD issued smartphones to peruse wanted posters electronically.
As officers approached him, Abellard spat on the Q-train platform at the Stillwell Avenue stop, officials said.
As officers wrote up Abellard for a relatively minor transit violation, they checked through their smartphones and found that he was sought in connection with the killing of Jean-Claude Bernagene, 51, a reputed gambler. Abellard of Brooklyn was taken to the 67th Precinct. Formal charges were pending as of late Friday.
Bernagene was thought to have run a neighborhood policy operation in which bettors wager on a series of three numbers often associated with racetrack results, police said. Investigators think Bernagene was attacked because he may have been carrying gambling proceeds. He was shot late on Nov. 20 and lingered for four days in hospital before he died of his injuries, police said. At the time of Bernagene’s death, police said they were looking for at least two people. It wasn’t clear Friday if police anticipated making any additional arrests.
Privately, police officials touted the latest arrest as proof of the way smartphone technology, which will be in the hands of all 35,000 NYPD officers by March, could allow officers to make significant arrests for what initially appeared to be minor offenses.