Courier News

NYC cop charged in death of unarmed man

NEW YORK (AP) -- A police officer has been indicted on a manslaughter charge in the shooting of an unarmed immigrant after a car accident.

Officer Raphael Lora pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter in a Bronx court as the indictment was unsealed on Wednesday. He was expected to be released on $50,000 bail. Police have said that Lora, 37, who was off duty, fired five times while trying to stop Fermin Arzu from leaving the accident scene on May 18. The Honduran immigrant died at the scene. The shooting happened across the street from the officer's home in the Longwood section of the Bronx. Steve London, a Patrolmen's Benevolent Association attorney who represents Lora, said his client "acted professionally and was justified on the night in question." "The grand jury heard the evidence and came to a conclusion that there was probable cause to believe a crime was committed," countered Sanford Rubenstein, attorney for the victim's family. "This off-duty officer took action to protect his community from an obviously dangerous drunk driver who had already crashed into two parked vehicles," PBA president Patrick J. Lynch said in a statement Wednesday. "The officer, who never fired his weapon before on the job, was subsequently forced to fire in order to protect his own life and to prevent possible injury to others. "We can only speculate about what might have happened if this out of control drunk driver was allowed to continue his trail of destruction. A criminal indictment was unwarranted in this case," said Lynch.