Long Island officers cleared in fatal shooting

Long Island news from Eyewitness News

July 10, 2012 8:52:42 AM PDT
No criminal charges will be considered against Long Island police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a knife-wielding suspect, a prosecutor announced Tuesday.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice issued a 28-page report on the Aug. 30, 2011, shooting in Point Lookout, N.Y., saying after a review of the circumstances, "no potential criminal charges should be presented to a grand jury."

A spokesman for the prosecutor said Rice would not comment beyond the details in the report.

Kurt Doerbecker, 23, was shot outside his home after initially refusing to comply with officers who wanted to speak with him regarding the break-in of a nearby home. The prosecutor's report notes that Doerbecker had a knife in his hand and had approached officers in a threatening manner.

The man's family has filed a federal lawsuit claiming the shooting was unjustified.

John Cuti, an attorney for the Doerbecker family, said in a statement that the ruling was disappointing and cited "several obvious inconsistencies" in the Rice report, but he did not elaborate. "It is never surprising when a DA refuses to charge officers who work closely with the DA's office every day," he said. "The family looks forward to discovering all the facts and to holding the police accountable in court."

The prosecutor's report also notes that before the shooting, Doerbecker had been involved in altercations with customers and staff at a nearby bar. The report notes that he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08, which is the standard for charging someone with driving while intoxicated. However, Doerbecker was not believed to have been operating a motor vehicle the night of the shooting.

The report says Doerbecker was inside the Point Lookout waterfront house where he lived with his family when police came to question him about a break-in of a nearby home. A woman in the home said she confronted an intruder who was carrying either a knife or a screwdriver in his hand.

Police made "made numerous unsuccessful attempts to speak with Doerbecker at his home" before he was seen climbing out a back window of the home.

He was confronted by three uniformed officers and had a knife in his hand, according to the report. Doerbecker held the knife over his head and charged at one of the officers. Three shots were fired in the ensuing moments, hitting Doerbecker, including one that struck him in the back of the head, killing him instantly.

Police records indicate there were at least 14 police officers at or near the Doerbecker home at the time of the 1:30 a.m. shooting.

A police department spokesman said he had not yet seen the report and had no immediate comment.

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