Monday, March 30, 2015 5:30 pm

Casting of Actor Who Did Time in Cop-Kill Spurs PBA’s Fury

By Mark Toor

PATRICK J. LYNCH: ‘Don’t support thug’s career.’  

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association reacted with outrage last week to a report that Lillo Brancato, the sometime actor who degenerated into drug addiction and became involved in the 2005 murder of Police Officer Daniel Enchautegui, had landed a movie role after his release from prison.

“We will never be able to forgive and forget the role that junkie Lillo Brancato played in the death of hero Police Officer Daniel Enchautegui,” PBA President Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement March 24. “To that end we ask all right-thinking people not to support this thug’s acting career by avoiding this movie and any project in which he is involved.”

A ‘Troubled-Kid’ Story

Mr. Lynch was reacting to a report in the New York Post that Mr. Brancato had been cast in “Back in the Day,” which the paper described as telling “the story of a troubled kid from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, who gets mentored by a local mobster while training to be a prizefighter.”

Despite the Post report, Internet Movie Database, an unofficial but authoritative resource on the movie industry, did not list Mr. Brancato among the credited cast of “Back in the Day.” It does have him listed as playing Father Palladino in “Monsters of Mulberry Street,” an independent film that has not yet been released.

Mr. Brancato, now 38, was paroled at the beginning of last year after serving eight years for an attempted-burglary conviction in Officer Enchautegui’s murder. A juror said the panel declined to convict him of felony murder because there was no evidence that he knew his partner, Steven Armento, who fired the fatal shot, was armed.

Mr. Brancato and Mr. Armento had broken into a home in the Pelham Bay section of The Bronx on Dec. 10, 2005, planning to rob a fellow user’s stash. Officer Enchautegui, who lived a few doors away, heard breaking glass and went to investigate. When he saw a broken window, he called 911. As he waited for backup, Mr. Brancato and Mr. Armento left the house.

Shot by ‘Other’ Burglar

Officer Enchautegui shouted, “Police! Don’t move!” Mr. Armento shot him in the chest. The cop fired back six times, wounding both men. Officer Enchautegui died later that day at a hospital. He was 28, a year younger than Mr. Brancato at the time. Mr. Armento is serving a life sentence.

Mr. Brancato was praised for his work in “A Bronx Tale” and “The Sopranos” before his drug problems made him unemployable. After his release, singer Natali Yura hired him to appear in a music video, but he dropped out amid a storm of criticism from people—led by the PBA—who thought that after the death of Officer Enchautegui he should just fade away.

He told the Post that he was grateful to William DeMeo, a producer and star of “Back in the Day,” for giving him a chance

“I could tell deep down in my heart that he changed,” Mr. DeMeo told the Post. “I wanted to give him a second chance.”

“Danny Enchautegui isn’t getting a second chance, nor are his parents, who were driven to an early grave by the murder of their only son,” Mr. Lynch said last year after Mr. Brancato’s role in the Yura video was reported. “Junkie Brancato doesn’t deserve a break.”