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Posted: 2/18/2006 8:13:11 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/18/2006 8:17:11 AM EDT by warlord]

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The New York Times

February 18, 2006
Bullets, Not Beating, Killed NYC Rookie Officer, Autopsy Finds
By AL BAKER and MANNY FERNANDEZ

The city medical examiner's office has ruled that a rookie police officer who was shot three times by a colleague last month outside a Bronx White Castle restaurant died from those bullet wounds and not from a beating he suffered moments before the shooting.

The officer, Eric Hernandez, lost vast amounts of blood and died last week at St. Barnabas Hospital, 11 days after the Jan. 28 shooting. He was buried on Monday in his hometown, White Plains.

At his funeral, Officer Hernandez was praised as a brave and benevolent officer, and police officials and union leaders, revolted by the ferocity of the attack on him inside the White Castle, had been suggesting that the beating he suffered might have caused his death. They were awaiting the autopsy results to see if murder or manslaughter charges could be brought against the men accused of attacking him.

But the findings announced yesterday, that the beating was not a contributing medical factor in the death, seemed all but certain to close the door on that possibility.

The autopsy found that two bullets hit Officer Hernandez in the right side of his abdomen, while a third pierced the outside of his right leg, said Ellen S. Borakove, a spokeswoman for Charles S. Hirsch, the chief medical examiner. Officer Hernandez died of complications of gunshot wounds to his torso and right leg, with injuries to blood vessels, she said.

On Jan. 28 before dawn, Officer Hernandez stopped at the White Castle, at 1831 Webster Avenue, after visiting at least one local bar following his night shift at the 52nd Precinct. A confrontation began between the officer, who was in street clothes, and a group of men.

After they kicked and punched him, Officer Hernandez crawled away. In the parking lot, the officer, apparently dazed from the beating and intoxicated, pulled his gun on a man he mistakenly believed to be one of his attackers.

An officer responding to a 911 call about the fight, Alfredo Toro, shot Officer Hernandez three times after he failed to drop his weapon.

A preliminary investigation indicated that Officer Toro, of the 46th Precinct, was justified in the shooting.

Mark Jay Heller, the attorney for one of the men arrested in the attack, Edwin Rivera, 25, embraced the medical findings as "very significant" news. He said they would most likely insulate his client from further charges and serve as an antidote to city officials trying to "put the blame on the people inside the restaurant" and protect the city from a lawsuit.

But Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday that regardless of the medical findings, "The cowards who assaulted Officer Hernandez are ultimately responsible for his death."

Six men have been arrested in the attack and four of them have been indicted on charges of first-degree attempted gang assault, said Steven Reed, a spokesman for the Bronx District Attorney, Robert T. Johnson.

In a written statement, Mr. Johnson said the autopsy results, along with evidence of any injuries that may have come from the beating, would "be presented to the grand jury for a final determination of charges."

Officer Hernandez's father, Efrain Hernandez, said he felt that although the bullets might have killed his son, the chain reaction that led to his death began with the attack.

"There would have been no shooting if there was no incident inside the White Castle," he said yesterday, speaking in the living room of his home in White Plains. "If he didn't get attacked, Eric would have walked out and gone home."

Mr. Hernandez said that the family has been talking to lawyers about its legal options, but he was waiting to see how the case evolved in criminal court. Asked if he planned to sue the Police Department or the city, he said, "At this point we have not decided to sue anybody."

* Copyright 2006The New York Times Company
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 8:42:09 AM EDT
But Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday that regardless of the medical findings, "The cowards who assaulted Officer Hernandez are ultimately responsible for his death."


Exactly.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 8:57:44 AM EDT
I also have a thread that is going in the general discussion forum:
www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=438377
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 1:06:39 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 1:17:22 PM EDT

Asked if he planned to sue the Police Department or the city, he said, "At this point we have not decided to sue anybody."


If he doesn't sue then he truely believes that the attackers was responsible for his son's death otherwise wouldn't a lawsuit put partial blame on the PD and/or city?
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