New York Post
January 28, 2004

NEW SHOOT TWIST

By MURRAY WEISS, DENISE BUFFA and DAN KADISON

The NYPD has interviewed a new mystery witness in Saturday's police shooting of an unarmed teenager in a Brooklyn stairwell, police confirmed yesterday.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told The Post the witness did not see Officer Richard Neri shoot Timothy Stansbury Jr., 19, in a roof stairwell of the Louis Armstrong Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

But the witness has talked to investigators from the department's Internal Affairs Bureau, Browne said. He would not name the witness.

Another law-enforcement source said the new witness overheard conversations among people involved in the incident.

The new witness, if unconnected to the cops or the victim, could give investigators an independent account of at least part of the tragic sequence of events.

Investigators for the Brooklyn DA have already talked to Jason Hallik, Neri's partner, and Terrence Fisher and Shawn Rahmes, Stansbury's friends who were with him when Neri fired a 9 mm bullet into the right side of the teen's chest.

It's unclear if Neri will testify before the grand jury.

If the grand jury indicts Neri, "charges could range from criminally negligent homicide to second-degree manslaughter," Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for DA Charles Hynes, has said.

Meanwhile yesterday, the police union chief met with the DA to make sure the investigation is handled "fairly."

"The PBA is here . . . to insure that the DA follows the rules, allows this case to move forward, treats this fairly, treats this no different than any other case," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, before a closed-door meeting with Hynes.

"We're asking . . . for fairness, for decisions to be based on facts, not emotions," Lynch said, noting "the officer wants to tell his story so people can understand what happened on that roof that day."

Stansbury was headed back to a party in an adjoining building of the Louis Armstrong Houses early Saturday morning when Neri shot him during a rooftop patrol.

Just 12 hours after the shooting, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the deadly shooting appeared to be unjustified. And soon after, the DA prepared to hand the case over to a grand jury.

"The district attorney assured the PBA that this will be a thorough investigation handled in a professional manner," according to Schmetterer, who said "it's possible" the grand jury could begin looking at the case today.

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday called Stansbury's death "a tragedy," but defended the NYPD and talked about what can be done to prevent such shootings in the future.

"The police commissioner is putting together a task force to study, and our Police Department is well trained," Bloomberg said. "They have 37,000 people with guns. The number of incidents, of police shootings, has declined over the last half a dozen years."

Additional reporting by Frankie Edozien and Mark Bulliet