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Jan 31, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: NYC worker injured by street sweeper feared for drumming career


When sanitation worker Mark Bonifacio’s arm was sucked into a street sweeper as he toiled in the Bronx recently, the part-time jazz drummer had one thought running through his head — he was never going to make music again.


“I was praying to God that I didn’t lose my arm,” Bonifacio, 50, said Wednesday from Jacobi Medical Center. “I’m a professional jazz drummer and this is totally messing up my plans.”


The 19-year Department of Sanitation veteran broke his humerus bone when the rig pulled his arm into its gears at Balcom Ave. and Bruckner Blvd. in Throggs Neck at about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. He suffered nerve damage along with the broken arm.


“There is no feeling in my whole arm,” Bonifacio said. “You know how you feel when you fall asleep on your arm — it feels like that. It feels like it’s 50 pounds. And some feeling is coming back but the feelings are painful.”

Sanitation worker busted for plastic bottle attack in Brooklyn


Bonifacio enjoys writing music for his contemporary jazz group on his off hours.


“I don’t know how long I’m going to be out of commission,” he said. “It hurts like hell. I can’t even drive my car because it’s stick.”


For the last 17 years, Bonifacio has been running a street sweeper in the Bronx.


On Tuesday, he saw a truck tire in his path. He got out of his rig to kick the tire out of the way but it got sucked up into his machine.

Sanitation worker treated like garbage over Middle Eastern DNA


“I was reversing, trying to get (the tire) out, but it wasn’t underneath, it was inside,” he said. “I went to get my gloves and turn the thing off but I should have just left it alone.”


Bonifacio shut down the sweeper’s flights that pull in dirt and debris before removing the tire but the object was under so much pressure the machine automatically sucked in his arm as soon as the tire was freed, he said.


“I was in a lot of pain but eventually I didn’t feel anything because my arm was crushed,” he said.


Despite his injury, Bonifacio, who was operating the street sweeper alone, was able to with his other hand fish his phone out of his pocket and call a supervisor, who raced to the scene while calling 911 for help.

Family of sanitation worker killed by street sweeper wins M


“Thank God I had my phone on me,” Bonifacio said.


First responders were able to free his arm and take him to Jacobi Medical Center, where he was scheduled to undergo surgery.


“It could be weeks before my nerves can heal,” he said.

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sanitation
music
throggs neck

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Jan 31, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx man with ISIS propaganda from NYC bomber laughs in court


The Bronx would-be terrorist who liked to watch gory beheading videos while working out smiled and laughed his way through a court appearance Wednesday.


Sajmir Alimehmeti, 24, sporting a shaved head and mid-length beard, chuckled at times with his lawyer during the hearing — and grinned and waved to the courtroom as he was led away.


Alimehmeti stands accused of attempting to provide material support to ISIS, as well as making a false statement when applying for a U.S. passport.


Prosecutors also allege that Alimehmeti has picked up some “terrorist propaganda” from convicted Chelsea bomber Ahmad Rahimi while in jail.

Chelsea bomber Ahmad Rahimi loses his lawyer


Alimehmeti could face up to 45 years in federal lockup.


Manhattan Federal Judge Paul Engelmayer set a May 7 trial date for the accused ISIS acolyte.


He’s been in federal jail without bail since his arrest in May 2016.


In Dec. 8 court filings, prosecutors said Alimehmeti “participated in the receipt and dissemination of terrorist propaganda materials” after he was arrested.

Chelsea bomber claims he started hunger strike two weeks ago


The former plumbing assistant demonstrated “a clear intention to support a terrorist organization that is hell-bent on murder and mayhem,” former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said after Alimehmeti’s arrest.


The 24-year-old also stockpiled gruesome ISIS beheading videos on his laptop, prosecutors said.


He showed them to guests, or played them to get “motivated” during workouts, the feds have said.


Alimehmeti twice tried to fly to the U.K. from American in the fall of 2014 but was denied entry both times.

Bronx man got ‘terrorist propaganda’ from Chelsea bomber in jail


When he was blocked at Manchester Airport, officials found camo clothing and nunchucks in his baggage.


The second time, when Alimehmeti touched down at Heathrow Airport, officials confiscated his laptop and cell phone.


They found pics of ISIS flags, as well as videos of bombings, and tipped off the FBI after kicking him back to the U.S., prosecutors said.


After returning stateside, Alimehmeti allegedly stockpiled weapons.

Bronx terrorism suspect can only see evidence for an hour a week


He also began meeting with another wannabe ISIS terrorist – who was actually an undercover agent – in 2015. Alimehmeti brought the agent to his home and showed him ISIS-made videos, named “nasheeds,” prosecutors claimed.


“One of the nasheeds showed ISIL fighters decapitating prisoners,” the criminal complaint alleged.


Alimehmeti told the agent he watched these videos “to keep him motivated while he is exercising,” the complaint said.


He also played the nasheed for another undercover agent, authorities said.

Bronx terrorism suspect used beheading vids to get ‘motivated’


Alimehmeti later spilled that he hoped to join ISIS in Syria and asked for help getting his hands on a bogus passport, explaining to the undercover agents that his name was “in the system,” prosecutors allege.

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terrorism
isis
chelsea
chelsea explosion

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Jan 31, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Cigarette traffickers cheated New York out of $25M in taxes: suit


A city lawsuit targeting illegal cigarette traffickers charges the illegal enterprise sent million in New York tax revenues up in smoke.


The 39-page suit, filed Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Court, accuses a North Carolina wholesale cigarette distributor and three Tar Heel state convenience stores in the lucrative scam.


“These defendants allegedly cheated the city and state out of millions of dollars in revenue that should be used for the people of New York,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.


“They also undercut law-abiding businesses that serve our neighborhoods and cannot compete with stores selling untaxed, cheap cigarettes.”


According to the lawsuit filed by city Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter, wholesaler H&H Distributors peddled cartons of cigarettes to the trio of North Carolina retailers — with a state sales tax of .50 a pop.


“The H&H defendants made those sales … with full knowledge that the North Carolina retailers intended to and did in fact transfer the cigarettes … for distribution and sale in New York City,” the lawsuit alleged.


The New York tax on cigarettes is .50 per carton, with the conspirators stiffing the state and city on million in uncollected taxes.


Authorities said the Bronx-based, butt-legging defendants shipped up to 0,000 in undertaxed cigarettes to New York State each week.


The smokes were then distributed to bodegas for sales around the state, officials said.


“Our suit seeks an injunction to put an end to the defendants’ illegal activity (and) have them compensate the city for the millions of dollars in lost tax revenues,” said Carter.


The civil suit stemmed from an investigation by Clark’s office into the group dubbed the Moflehi Enterprise.


Last year, 21 people — including defendant Shareef Moflehi, 30, of Mount Vernon, N.Y. — were charged in the cigarette-smuggling scam.


Authorities filed a civil forfeiture suit against Moflehi seeking the return of million in illicit earnings.

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Jan 31, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: FDNY firefighter who played Santa for kids dies from 9/11 illness


A retired FDNY firefighter who delighted scores of children by dressing up as Santa Claus every year has become the latest first responder to die from a 9/11-related illness, officials said Tuesday.


Ret. Firefighter Ray (Gonzo) Phillips, 64, died on Saturday at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital, family members said.


Phillips contracted asthma during his time at Ground Zero following the terror attacks as he and his colleagues at Rescue 3 conducted rescue and recovery operations.


On Saturday, a particularly bad asthma attack sparked a heart attack, family members said.

White firefighter in iconic 9/11 photo files discrimination claim


Phillips joined the FDNY in 1977 after he was laid off by the NYPD during the city’s budget crisis in 1975.


The FDNY was a perfect fit for the Bronx-born Phillips, said his son Raymond Phillips, who is currently a cop in the 17th Precinct in Kips Bay.


“Ever since he was little, he would go to the firehouse that was right next to his home,” Phillips, 30, said. “He loved the department.”


Spending most of his career in Rescue 3 in Claremont, the towering 6-foot-3 Phillips got his nickname when a co-worker meant to call him Godzilla because of his size, but only came out with “Gonzo.”

Saudi Arabia’s lawyer says families in 9/11 suit have no evidence


The name stuck for a man who was always ready to attend FDNY events, whether as a member of the Emerald Society or as a delegate for his union the Uniformed Firefighters Association.


The die-hard Rangers fan was a mainstay at UFA functions, and was the official Santa Claus for the FDNY Widows & Children’s holiday party.


“He played Santa for the FDNY since 1985, for both the Widows and Children Fund and the Burn Center,” said his daughter Courtney. “My favorite thing about seeing him play Santa was how many kids looked forward to seeing him. They knew that he was the same Santa for all those years and would come and ask just for him.”


“He was an outstanding man and I am lucky to have been his daughter,” she said.

Retired FDNY firefighter dies of 9/11-related cancer


The union in 2017 honored Phillips by naming him UFA Man of the Year, family members said.


“He loved to make everyone laugh and he was always there for you,” his daughter Courtney, 26, said. “I would trade anything in the world to go see a New York Ranger hockey game with him just one more time.”


Phillips is the 166th FDNY member to die from a 9/11-related illness since the terror attacks, the department said.


An additional 133 NYPD members have died of sicknesses attributed to the wreckage of the Twin Towers, police said.

Suspected 9/11 plotters say groin searches are sexual harassment


Phillips is remembered by his wife Maureen, sons, Raymond and Brian and his daughter, Courtney.


A wake for Phillips will be held Wednesday at Smith, Seaman & Quackenbush, Inc. Funeral Home in Monroe, N.Y. A funeral mass will be held at 11:30 am on Thursday at St. Mary’s Church, 42 Goshen, Avenue, Washingtonville, N.Y.

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fdny
september 11 terrorist attacks
obituaries

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Jan 31, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx woman says landlord refusing to fix heat to force her out


She has suffered through cancer, strokes and two busted hips. Now Shawn Smith is suffering through a brutal winter with no heat, gas or hot water.


The 51-year-old Bronx woman, her boyfriend and asthmatic son have been living in misery for the past seven weeks inside their duplex apartment on Wickham Ave. in Baychester.


They sleep in layers of clothing and wool hats, covered by a mound of blankets.


To bathe, they travel to family members’ homes in other boroughs.

Mayor de Blasio to spend million on NYCHA improvements


And, without even a hot plate, they can’t cook at home, forcing them to eat out or rely on relatives for handouts.


“This is evil. How can you leave someone in the cold for almost two months?” Smith said, her hands wrapped around her shivering body. “How can you subject someone to these living conditions?”


Smith and her boyfriend Michael Day, 58, say landlord Godwin Okpomo has ignored their repeated requests to fix the problem.


The couple is convinced that Okpomo is putting them through hell because he wants to renovate the apartment and bring in higher-paying tenants.

City investigates NYCHA heating issues in Queens


“Maybe he thought I would move out quicker if he subjected me to these types of conditions,” said Smith, whose son is 24.


The transformation from apartment to ice box began on Dec. 6 when Con Edison cut the power over unpaid bills.


Utility workers returned a week later after the payment was made but they found that work had to be done to accommodate the new meter, Con Ed officials said.


When a blast of arctic air moved into the region at the end of the month, sending temperatures into single digits, Smith and her family huddled around the portable space heaters spread throughout their ,600-a-month apartment.

Queens family says NYCHA failed to fix its roach-infested home


Adding insult to icy, Smith uses a walker to get around — a consequence of her two broken hips.


“I have extreme pain in my body all the time, but I’m trying to be physically and mentally strong,” Smith said.


As the days without heat and hot water piled up, Smith contacted the city and filed a complaint in housing court.


But she’s still waiting for relief.


Okpomo told the Daily News that he’s been trying for weeks to find a contractor willing to fix the pipe but hasn’t had any luck.


“I can’t just go and buy this piece of equipment and replace it,” said Okpomo, who added that he’s a psychiatrist.


“I feel so bad. I have compassion. I take care of people for a living. This is not negligence.”


The city Department of Housing Preservation and Development has stepped in, ordering a contractor to repair the gas line. Because of an additional boiler leak, the work will be extensive.


But officials said they expect it to begin this week.


“We have been heavily involved here and have issued emergency repair work to be done so service can be restored as quickly as possible,” said agency spokesman Matthew Creegan.

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Jan 30, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: City garbage man saved after getting arm stuck in street sweeper

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Jan 30, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Murder trial begins for cop who shot mentally ill Bronx woman


The sister of an emotionally disturbed Bronx woman testified Tuesday about sharing a congenial elevator ride with an NYPD sergeant just before he killed her sibling.


Jennifer Danner was called as the first witness in the murder trial of Sgt. Hugh Barry, who sat solemnly at the defense table on the first day of the Bronx trial.


Danner started her testimony by recounting the scene in her sister Deborah’s apartment on the evening of Oct. 18, 2016.


“All of a sudden all of the officers rushed into the apartment,” Jennifer recalled. “I did not hear (Deborah) any more. I was myself yelling, screaming — ‘What happened? Did you shoot my sister?’”

Deborah Danner’s sister says NYPD cop fabricated story: suit


The answer was yes, and the 66-year-old mortally injured woman was wheeled past Jennifer on a stretcher.


Under cross-examination, Jennifer Danner recounted riding in the elevator with Barry as they went up to her sister’s apartment.


“He didn’t seem to be agitated or anything?” asked defense attorney Andrew Quinn.


“No,” replied Danner.

No changes in NYPD training year after Deborah Danner’s death


“He seemed to be friendly?” the lawyer asked.


“Right,” she replied.


Jennifer Danner acknowledged that while police were often called to the home of her sister, Deborah had showed any previous inclination to assault a cop.


“She never threatened a police officer with a weapon before?” asked Quinn.

NYPD top cop reflects on the good and bad from his first year


“No,” replied Danner.


The white officer shot the black woman after responding to a call for help at Danner’s apartment. He was indicted in May 2017 on murder charges, the most severe count possible, by a Bronx grand jury.


Barry became the first NYPD member to face a top homicide count since 1999 for an on-duty shooting. Four cops were charged in the 41-shot fusillade that killed unarmed Amadou Diallo as he reached for his wallet.


Jennifer Danner appeared after the prosecution and defense delivered their opening statements to the Bronx jury.


Assistant District Attorney Newton Mendys charged the fatal shooting of Deborah Danner resulted directly from Barry’s botched handling of the situation.


“The evidence will prove that Sgt. Barry failed — he failed in his training … he failed to listen to Mrs. Danner … he failed to grasp the actions of a mentally ill woman,” said Mendys.


Quinn, in his first address to the jury, said the officer — then in his eighth year on the job — made a split-second decision to protect himself when the older woman grabbed a bat.


“Hugh Barry had eight-tenths of a second to make a decision,” said Quinn. “He is allowed to defend himself. As tragic as it is … Mrs. Danner was the aggressor and she was about to kill my client.”


Mendys told the jury that Barry knew better than to shoot the 5-foot-6 mentally ill woman twice in the chest because of his police training.


“(Barry) was taught how to handle people who are emotionally disturbed,” said Mendys. “He made a bad situation worse … It is disappointing, and tragic on many levels.”


Mendys claimed the case came down to one question for the jury to answer.


“Did Sgt. Barry honestly believe Deborah Danner (posed a threat), and was that belief reasonable?” the prosecutor told the panel.


“If Sgt. Barry is not justified, then he is guilty. We are going to ask you to hold Hugh Barry accountable.”


Defense attorney Quinn offered an alternative account of what happened in the victim’s bedroom.


“Deborah Danner died because she was swinging a lethal weapon, a bat, at Sgt. Barry’s head,” he argued. “He was trying to help this woman. He was trying to follow the mandates of the NYPD.”


The victim’s sister filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city earlier this month. 

Tags:
nypd
police shootings
new york murders
gun violence
hugh barry
deborah danner

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Jan 30, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Innocent man freed after 20 years in prison feels numb


After 20 years in prison for a crime he says he did not commit, a Bronx man says there are just two things he wants to do now that he’s free: take a walk, and be alone.


While friends and family were ecstatic over a judge’s decision to vacate Larry McKee’s murder conviction, McKee was a bit more circumspect, reflecting on the broken system that robbed him of two decades of his life.


“How do I feel? Satisfied, not happy,” McKee said after he was officially released from prison Monday.


“It still ain’t hit me. I’ve been in there. I had to block a lot of stuff out I had to stop thinking about out here.”

Bronx man wrongfully convicted for 1997 murder set for release


Relatives clapped and cheered as McKee walked past signs that said “Hall of Justice” at the Bronx Criminal Court building.


As he took his first steps as a free man, McKee managed to share a shy smile with the supporters who came to greet him.


“Right now I have no feeling,” McKee said. “What am I going to do now? Take a walk. Be alone.”


McKee, 47, spent 20 years in prison for the second-degree murder of 29-year-old Theodore Vance. He was serving a sentence of 24 years to life.


According to trial testimony, McKee was alleged to have gotten into a brawl with Vance on Feb. 19, 1996, on W. 176th St.


Prosecutors said McKee then ran across the street from his rival and opened fire, killing him.


But following a six-month investigation, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark’s office found grand jury evidence that was not shared with McKee’s defense team.


According to the new evidence, Vance, bleeding to death, told a witness he saw “a Spanish guy.”


That critical piece of evidence corroborated witness testimony that the gunman was Hispanic. McKee is black.


The failure to disclose the dying declaration was enough to throw the conviction out, Clark said.


“I’m very happy for my client,” said McKee’s lawyer, Michael Talassazan. “There’s some degree of justice here, although it was delayed. It’s a second lease on life.”

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Jan 30, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Cops gun down knife-wielding man in the Bronx


Cops shot and killed a man who lunged at them with a combat knife Monday night as they responded to a report of a stabbing, police said.


Two officers arrived at Prospect Ave. and E. 181st St. in Belmont around 7:40 p.m., after getting a 911 call that a man was stabbed during a landlord-tenant dispute, sources said. No one had been stabbed, but the tenant was chasing his landlord with a razor during a rent dispute, and his startled roommate was the one who called cops, according to sources.


The 52-year-old tenant, who had switched out his razor for a “Rambo-style” combat knife, confronted arriving cops on the street, sources said.


The man was 10 feet away from the two officers and refused repeated commands to drop the weapon, NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison told reporters.

Bronx man didn’t grab cop’s gun during fatal scuffle: witness


“The man turned toward the officers, and the cops opened fire, hitting him, Harrison said.


Medics rushed the man to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he died.


Cops recovered the man’s knife from the scene.


“The police showed up. They were playing ‘Tom and Jerry’ going around (chasing him),” said one witness, who didn’t give his name. “They were telling him, ‘Drop the weapon, drop the weapon!’ ”


Police radio transmissions show the cops were responding to a report of a man stabbed inside a first-floor apartment, at an address with a history of domestic violence complaints.


Within moments of their arrival, a panicked cop could be heard on radio transmissions, screaming the code for officers needing assistance: “Shots fired! Shots fired! 10-13, shots fired!”


A sergeant called for a radio dispatcher to rush an ambulance to the scene.


When police investigated inside the apartment, they found no one had been stabbed, Harrison said Monday night.


“I just saw people running out of the way and I heard gunshots, just two about,” said Pablo Flores, 24, who was walking his dog nearby.


“Cars swerving from different directions, they told everyone to back up,” he said. “Next thing you know, you just hear bop, bop. That’s when I brought my dog out and they started backing up everyone out the way.”


Two responding officers were injured in a car crash about three blocks away, at E. 180th St. and Prospect Ave. Their injuries were not life-threatening, police sources said.

With Rocco Parascandola

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Jan 30, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Five people injured in Bronx apartment building fire


Five people were hurt in a Bronx fire Monday, authorities said.


The flames broke out on the second floor of a six-story building on University Ave. near 195th St. in Jerome Park about 1:30 p.m.


One resident was seriously injured, according to officials. The other four people, including one firefighter, suffered minor injuries.


Two people were taken to Jacobi Hospital, according to the FDNY. It wasn’t known if the others were taken in for treatment.


The fire was under control at about 2:20 p.m., officials said.

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Jan 29, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: New Bronx court allows opioid addicts to dodge jail


Opioid addicts in the Bronx now have a chance to avoid jail through a new drug court that prioritizes treatment over punishment.


Court officials and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark revealed Monday that the special court opened eight weeks ago and is treating 52 defendants charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree.


Addicts who fulfill treatment goals in the Overdose and Avoidance Recovery program will have their drug charges dismissed and sealed.


“It’s not the normal sense of crime and punishment. Our track is about compassion and recovery,” Judge George Grasso said.

Opioid Addiction FAQ: Experts’ guide to the hard facts


“Now we are in full crisis mode…It’s not about slapping wrists. It’s about saving lives.”


During a proceeding before the judge, a male defendant requested further addiction treatment at Mount Sinai Hospital through Bronx Community Solutions project director Maria Almonte.


In a departure from typical court protocol, the man did not have to be present.


Grasso commended the request.

N.Y. lawmakers urged to allow safe sites for addicts to use drugs


“We will in this proceeding bend over backward to work with him. Remind him that this isn’t the normal crime and punishment. This is a very unique track,” Grasso said to Almonte, who was assisting in treatment.


“I very much look forward to seeing him on Feb. 8 to get the latest information on his progress.”


Clark said Daily News coverage of the crisis, dubbed “Opioid Nation,” inspired her to pursue the alternative form of justice.


“The Daily News really hit it on the head with that story. That just solidified that we really needed to think outside the box and to think of something really creative to help these long term users who are at high risk of overdose,” Clark said.

Brooklyn man blames Big Pharma for opioid-fueled robbery spree


The statistics are dire.


Between January 2013 and July 2017, 879 people died of opioid use in the Bronx. Of those, 551 people had an average 8.9 arrests each. Last year, 292 people were murdered in all of New York City. In comparison, the city recorded over 300 overdose deaths in the Bronx alone in 2017, Grasso said.

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drug busts
darcel clark

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Jan 29, 2018
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BRONX NEWS: Bronx man dies after trying to grab cop’s gun while cuffed


A Bronx man died in police custody Sunday after he tried to grab a cop’s gun while cuffed in his apartment, then lost consciousness as officers subdued him, authorities said.


When officers arrived at the Reservoir Ave. apartment in Jerome Park just after 4:50 p.m., a 71-year-old man told them his son, who cops later identified as Dwayne Pritchett, 48, was refusing to come out of his bedroom.


The son suddenly opened the door in the third-floor apartment, and cops saw a handgun magazine on the floor, according to police.


They entered the room and cuffed him, but Pritchett tried to grab an officer’s gun from its holster, authorities said.

NYPD detective fatally shoots sword-wielding man in Bronx


Cops pulled him from the room, forcing him to the floor, sources said.


It wasn’t immediately clear how Pritchett was subdued, though sources said the officers did not use a Taser.


Cops found drug paraphernalia and a gun in his bedroom, sources said.


“Be advised, the EDP (emotionally disturbed person) is having a mental episode. He locked himself in the bedroom. He is not on his medication. No weapons,” a police radio dispatcher told arriving officers assigned to the 50th Precinct.

NYPD cop shot dead, another injured in shootout with Bronx gunman


“EDP is fighting, needs to be contained, in custody?” the police radio dispatcher is heard saying at about 5:14 p.m.


At some point, the man lost consciousness, and arriving medics, thinking he may have been overdosing on drugs, tried to revive him with naloxone, sources said.


Medics took him to New York Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital, where he died just before 6:45 p.m., according to sources.


The medical examiner will determine how he died, and the NYPD’s Force Investigation Division is looking into his death.


Police still had Pritchett’s apartment building blocked off early Monday as they investigated.

With Rikki Reyna

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