Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Anger Over Cop Death By MTA Police
Nassau County Police Officer Geoffrey Breitkopf was shot and killed at a crime scene Saturday night by a Metropolitan Transportation Authority officer after a retired New York City policeman, who had stopped to see what was happening, shouted that Mr. Breitkopf was carrying a gun, police union officials said.
"This should have never happened," said James Carver, president of the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association. "Geoff never posed a threat to anyone at that scene. He never gestured in any way that could be interpreted as a threat to anyone."
Mr. Carver said that by the time Mr. Breitkopf, who was wearing street clothes, arrived at the crime scene where a knife-wielding man had been shot by Nassau County police, the initial emergency response had "slowed down." At that point, if the MTA officer who shot Mr. Breitkopf "had a hint of doubt about who Geoff was, then there should have been an inquiry made to someone from the Nassau County Police Department," Mr. Carver said.
The MTA officer's name hasn't been publicly released. MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin declined to comment because the investigation is continuing.
Just after 8 p.m. Saturday, Nassau County police were called to Massapequa Park for a call of a man with a knife. They found 21-year-old Anthony DiGeronimo wearing what Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey described as leather "satanic-like garb" with a mask and several knives attached to his outfit. Police chased Mr. DiGeronimo into his parent's home on Fourth Avenue. Two MTA police officers from a nearby train station responded to lend assistance and the retired NYPD officer also showed up, Mr. Carver said.
Police said that Mr. DiGeronimo locked himself in his room and when police were able to coax him out, he lunged at them holding knives in both hands. Mr. DiGeronimo was hit with two of the seven shots fired by police and was killed.
Mr. Breitkopf, 40, arrived with his partner. Both were assigned to the Bureau of Special Operations and as such were wearing street clothes. Mr. Breitkopf armed himself with long-barreled rifle.
Mr. Carver said Mr. Breitkopf, a 12-year Nassau Police veteran, walked past several fellow officers. The barrel of his gun was pointed down. "Everything should have been slowed down by this point," Mr. Carver said.
As Mr. Breitkopf approached the house, union officials would later report to Mr. Carver that the retired NYPD police officer, who also hasn't been publicly identified, shouted, "He's got a gun," or words to that effect, referring to Mr. Breitkopf. The MTA officer shot Mr. Breitkopf once in the side of the chest.
Mr. Breitkopf, the married father of two young boys, died later that night at the hospital. The NYPD declined to comment.
Mr. Mulvey called the incident a "tremendous tragedy, not only for us but I can imagine what the [MTA officer] is going through."
Mr. Carver said, "Nobody understands this because this doesn't make sense…There's a lot of anger with my members over this incident."