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How One Police Dept. Reached 2 Rulings on a Shooting

In August 2009, a NYPD panel, after reviewing evidence and interviews with police officers, school safety agents and a civilian witness, signed off on a decision in the fatal police shooting of a a day laborer nine months earlier: Officer Dawn Ortiz’s use of deadly physical force was “within department guidelines.”

But in January, Ricardo Blanco’s boss, Michael Rizza, filed a suit over the shooting, on behalf of the dead man’s estate, against Officer Ortiz, the city and the police. (Mr. Rizza had been named administrator of the estate.) It claimed that proper police procedures had been ignored. On March 19, the internal charges were lodged against the two officers, but Eric Sanders, a lawyer for Officer Archie, said he had seen nothing to show the basis of the department’s charge that appropriate tactics were not used.

“Even if the department does not agree with their tactics, whatever that means, it still has no bearing with respect to Article 35 of the state penal law, which defines use of force,” Mr. Sanders said. Both officers were asked to accept a command discipline — including five days’ lost vacation — but when they declined, a police trial was set for Jan. 13.

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