New York, NY -- The family of a man killed by an errant police bullet during a bloody domestic altercation filed a $25 million lawsuit against the New York Police Department on Tuesday. Rafael Laureano, 51, was put in harm’s way by the police in a serious breach of protocol, the lawsuit alleges.
Officers asked Laureano, a bodybuilder, to break down a door so they could get into an apartment to stop an attack by a crazed knife-wielding ex-boyfriend. Francisco Carvajal was attempting to cut through a bathroom door with knives to attack Katarzyna Russo and her two children. Laureano was a friend of Russo.
Instead of using a battering ram, or their Emergency Service Unit, or their own bodies, the officers had Laureano, who had no bulletproof vest, no gun, and no support, do the dangerous job of breaching a door with an unpredictable situation waiting inside. After Laureano got through, Carvajal rushed at the newcomers with his knives, prompting the officers to open fire.
18 bullets were fired, nine of which struck Carvajal and killed him. One bullet hit Laureano in the back, and an autopsy confirmed that this bullet is what killed him.
Strangely, the hospital and the police informed Laureano’s son, Rafael Laureano, Jr., that his father had been stabbed “multiple times” to death.
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“When I got to scene I asked three cops what happened to my father, no one wanted to tell me anything,” said Laureano, Jr.
However, a few days later the city medical examiners found that Laureano had not been stabbed, but was shot by the NYPD.
Did the officers and hospital staff try to prevent Laureano’s son from knowing the truth?
“The NYPD and the city has yet to provide the Laureano family with the truth of what led to [their father's] death,” said Abe George, the lawyer for Laureano’s son.
Whether or not there was deliberate obfuscation, if the lawsuit’s allegations are correct, then the officers’ actions were irresponsible and out of protocol.
NYPD officials claim that the officers forced open the door and then Laureano ran into the apartment. That scenario seems far less likely, and we are familiar with the history of deceit and corruption in the NYPD.
An internal investigation is pending.