NYPD officer shot by another in gunfight with man

August 8, 2010 4:39:50 PM PDT
Authorities say an argument at a New York City block party escalated into gunfire, killing one man and wounding six others, including a police officer shot by a fellow officer in the hail of bullets.

"He used to get into a little problems but he was a good kid, it wasn't anything terrible," said the victim's grandmother, Myrna Soto.

But this time it was serious.

Myrna Soto's grandson Luis lied lifeless at the corner of 144th and Lenox early Sunday morning, his bullet ridden body was covered with a white sheet.

Friends gathered outside of the 22-year-old's home to say goodbye to a kid who is now part of a major police investigation.

"He was a good kid, didn't carry a gun on him, a good kid, didn't deserve that," said the victim's cousin, Daniel Rodriguez.

But, exactly what happened is still not clear and that's what's causing so much tension on this community.

"We just got out of a cab and sounded like Vietnam out here," said one man.

Police say they came to the scene at about 3 a.m. they were responding to a fight between Soto and Angel Alvarez.

"Angel Alvarez shot the individual he was arguing with on the west side of Lenox Avenue and then fired at the approaching police officers," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

At first, police said one of those bullets struck Officer Michael Tedeschi, and showed Eyewitness News how his bullet resistant vest saved his life.

But as it turns out, that round came from a fellow officer, not Alverez.

A second responding officer was also hit in the hand by a bullet.

In all of the confusion, responding officers did handcuff Soto, and in the end, fired more than 40 bullets.

Alverez's relatives say he was hit 21 times in the abdomen and chest.

They insist he wasn't carrying the .38 caliber revolver that police claim he was and recovered at the scene.

"If he was in a situation where he had to defend himself he would use his hands first," said Alvarez's sister, Tisch Craft.

The family has hired an attorney who says several witnesses confirm what they believe.

John Carney, Attorney, says "The other individual had a weapon and may have been firing, he was being fired upon by police and my client was shot during the incident," said attorney, James Carney.

This incident begs the question, how are officers supposed to handle these dangerous situations?

Eyewitness News turned to Dr. Maria "Maki" Haberfeld with John Jay College for some answers.

"It's a crowded environment. They hear somebody shooting. They try to identify who is shooting and who has the gun but it's very hard because of the dangerous situation the guns are out. When you're under stress and duress especially in a crowded situation I'm surprised we don't have more friendly fire situations," Dr. Haberfeld said.

Dr. Haberfeld points out the officers were caught in the middle of a large block party, it was dark, and even the best training truly can't prepare anyone for such a dangerous situation.

"You really don't know if it's only one person because sometimes one officer will mistake another officer's bullets as coming from the suspect. It's not a situation where you can clearly set yourself apart from the adrenaline running inside your body, and assessing the situation in a clear way. While its happening all sorts of thoughts are going through the mind of the police officer," Dr. Haberfeld said.