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May 8, 2024

‘Treated like criminals’: Family of Queens teen Win Rozario demand justice weeks after cops shot him to death

By Dean Moses

The officers who shot Queens’ Win Rozario dead while responding to his mental health crisis back in March treated both the troubled teen and his family like hardened criminals, the slain teen’s loved ones said at a City Hall rally Wednesday.

Members of the Rozario family made the comments publicly as they demanded accountability for the two 102nd Precinct members connected to the deadly March 27 incident: Officers Salvatore Alongi and Matthew Cianfrocco.

Rozario was gunned down during a mental health crisis on March 27 at the family’s Ozone Park residence; police said Rozario, who had called 911 initially, had charged at the officers with a pair of scissors before being Tased and eventually shot.

On Friday, the office of Attorney General Letitia James released damning bodycam footage of the officers’ response to the home, and the moment in which the teenager was shot — shortly after the teen’s mother begged officers not to pull the trigger.

Despite the shocking ordeal, family members said Wednesday that they received little mercy afterward from the officers.

“After killing my brother, the NYPD treated me and my mom like criminals and the NYPD and City treated my family like we didn’t matter. They made us go to the police station right after they killed my brother and wouldn’t let us take anything with us,” said Utsho Rozario, Win Rozario’s brother, at the May 8 rally.

“After getting to the precinct they threw us in an interrogation room, treating us like criminals, when my brother was shot and killed right in front of my eyes. They didn’t care to see if me and my mother were ok. They seemed to be more worried about how they would cover this up than anything else.”

Utsho, who is only 17 years old, claimed that police questioned him without his mother present. He also alleged that they were not permitted back into their home for several days, even to feed their cat.

When they were allowed back home, he noted, they found the kitchen floor still coated in Win’s blood.

At Wednesday’s rally, the distraught family embraced one another in a huddle of raw emotion surrounded by numerous supporters. This not only marked the first time all members of the immediate family have spoken publicly, but it is also their first appearance since the attorney general’s office released the bodycam video of both cops.

The startling footage of the March 27 shooting depicts a clearly emotionally disturbed Win Rozario attempting to charge at the cops with a small pair of scissors as his mother, Notan Eva Costa, tried to wrestle the tool out of his hands. The cops shot the boy with tasers while the distraught mother attempted to shield her son. 

“Let go of him and back up,” one of the officers could be heard yelling while Utsho Rozario pleaded for the cops not to shoot. As Utsho Rozario pulled his mother out of harm’s way, the officers unloaded several bullets into Win, killing him.

Notan Eva Costa, Utsho Rozario, and family patriarch Francis Rozario all call for the officers to be immediately fired.

In a statement following the May 3 release of the bodycam footage, the NYPD stated that the cops involved are currently on modified duty and are not holding firearms. The department receives more than 9 million calls for help each year, with about 155,000 being emergency calls involving people suffering from mental health crises. Force is used in less than 1% of those emergency calls, the NYPD noted.

Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry responded by acknowledging the distressing nature of the incident while also calling for the cops to have a fair investigation.

“This is a heartbreaking case that underscores the difficult reality police officers face when they respond to many calls. These police officers were faced with an individual who was holding a weapon and endangering multiple people,” Hendry said. “As the body camera footage makes clear, they were trying to minimize the risks to everyone in that room and were forced to make split-second decisions based on those risks. They deserve a fair investigation based on facts and the law, not demonization by activists who are exploiting this tragedy to advance an anti-police agenda.”

Despite the anger and grief, Win’s mother declared that she doesn’t want her son to be remembered for the way he died but instead for the dreams and hopes he had for the future. She described him as a young man who yearned to serve the United States in the military and one day carve out a peaceful life by owning a farm.

“You can’t imagine the pain I have and how much I miss Win. Win was just a child. He was a teenager with his whole life ahead of him,” Eva Costa said. “There’s so much more I can say about Win but what I want to say right now is we need Alongi and Cianfrocco to be fired. They should be suspended without pay until they’re fired. They should be prosecuted.”