Two New York police officers cleared of department violations in a 2008 fatal shooting of a man in Coney Island will now face a disciplinary trial later this month over their decision-making in the moments before the shooting.
A police advisory panel in August 2009 initially determined that Officer Dawn Ortiz did not violate department guidelines in the shooting of Gilberto Blanco, who charged at Officer Ortiz with a metal and wooden chair at a church parking lot. Officer Ortiz, a nine-year veteran at the time, fired the only shot at Mr. Blanco; the bullet pierced his heart. Her partner, Officer India Archie, stood nearby.
Eric Sanders, a lawyer who will represent Officer Archie in the Jan. 13 trial, said the officers did not agree to the command discipline because they believe they acted justly. “They followed the protocols; that’s the issue,” Mr. Sanders said.
According to the 2009 report of a police advisory board investigating the use of firearms, Mr. Blanco came within one foot of Officer Ortiz. When he raised the chair to swing it toward her head, she fired the one fatal round.
In addition to the departmental trial, Mr. Sanders said that the family of Mr. Blanco had filed a civil suit related to the shooting.
A call left for Officer Ortiz was not returned.
Mr. Sanders added that he did not have the charges, but that Officer Archie had told him she was specifically “charged with conduct prejudicial to the good order of the department.”
Mr. Sanders said Officer Archie was told that her “failure to use appropriate tactics caused Police Officer Ortiz to discharge her weapon causing the death” of Mr. Blanco.
Officer Archie had pepper spray but did not use it because “it was not consistent with her training,” Mr. Sanders said.