BY TRONE DOWD
After six months of requests from Southeast Queens elected officials, District Attorney Richard Brown concluded his investigation in the fatal shooting of 32-year-old George Tillman in April.
The detailed 71-page report concluded that the four officers involved, Sgt. Thomas Sorrentino and Officers Michael Renna, Mateusz Krzeminski and Kenneth Stallone, acted in self-defense when they fired at Tillman.
“All the credible evidence in this case points to the inescapable conclusion that Mr. Tillman was armed with a loaded and operable .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol at the time of his encounter with the police,” District Attorney Brown said in an official statement following the release of the report. “The evidence clearly shows that Mr. Tillman pointed the pistol in the direction of a police officer and failed to heed police directions to drop the weapon. The officers had no choice but to fire in order to stop Mr. Tillman from firing his weapon at them.”
Brown said that the six-month long report was based on a number of different sources including extensive interviews with over two dozen witnesses, the officers involved, police personnel, emergency responders and civilians. The investigation also included review of video surveillance recordings, police radio runs, 911 call reports, crime scene unit and ballistics reports, the autopsy report and DNA reports.
Shortly after the shooting took place, Southeast Queens elected officials united to bring in the DA’s office for a closer examination on the case. They also called on the state to act upon the recently instated Executive Order 147. This executive order put in place by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year says that the New York State Attorney General would step in as a special prosecutor for cases involving civilian casualties at the hands of police. Cuomo agreed to the recommendation put forward by state Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park), forwarding his request to the State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Members of the community were disappointed by the investigation.
“It’s sad that it didn’t happen,” Sanders told the Press of Southeast Queens. “While it is true that we do not have all of the information that the District Attorney has, it is also true that it is a rare occurrence if a police officer is ever charged, and rarer still that they are ever convicted in these types of cases, and that seems to fit a national pattern.”
“I am deeply troubled and saddened by the District Attorney’s decision not to pursue chargers on these officers,” community activist Kevin Livingston said. “We as a community feel there was no justice served in this case. Mr. Tillman’s murder was not in vain and we plan to pursue until we get justice for George and all of the unsolved cases in Southeast Queens. We demand justice.”
On April 17, Tillman, a Maryland resident, was in New York visiting his family in South Ozone Park. After attending a party with his wife and friends, he was stopped by police for having an open container of alcohol. Police say that Tillman fled shortly after being stopped. While fleeing, police say that he reached for a weapon. Tillman was shot multiple times by four officers. He was pronounced dead shortly afterward at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. A .40-caliber pistol was discovered at the scene of the shooting.
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, email@example.com or @theloniusly