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AG James’ office investigating police shooting in Brooklyn

The scene of the shooting on Nov. 11.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Prosecutors with the Attorney General’s office are investigating a police shooting from Nov. 11, which saw an NYPD officer fatally shoot a 65-year-old man in Bath Beach. 

The probe comes as part of a state law that requires the AG Letisha James’s Office of Special Investigations to probe any incident that resulted in the death of a person caused directly or indirectly by a police officer. 

Speaking at a press conference immediately after the incident, NYPD Chief Rodney Harrison said that officer attempted to pull over Brian Astarita on the Belt Parkway just after 4 pm, when the suspect slammed on his gas pedal and sped away.  

After a brief car chase, officers eventually got Astarita out of his car — but he allegedly brandished a gun, and pointed it at police officers. 

Graphic video from the scene then shows a hellfire of gunshots.

Paramedics rushed the shooting victim to NYU Langone Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

Now, though, James’ office is looking into the shooting, and for any possible misconduct on the part of the NYPD. 

The investigation will likely prove to be less contentious than other recent probes into police activity, as the officers, who repeatedly attempted to force Astarita to drop his weapon peacefully, only opened fire after the suspect pointed his handgun at them first.

The New York Post reported that police sources believed the incident may have been Astarita’s attempt at “suicide-by-cop” — a practice in which a suspect will compel police officer to open fire on them through various means. 

Nevertheless, the probe opens tricky political grounds for the usually-shrewd James, who recently announced her candidacy for governor of New York State in next year’s Democratic Primary. 

In a likely battle against current Gov. Kathy Hochul, and possibly others like Public Advocate Jumannee Williams and Mayor Bill de Blasio, any police-involved incident will surely be a hot-button issue as the politicians compete for the precious votes in Brooklyn. 

In any case, the AG’s Office of Special Investigation will conduct an initial probe of the shooting, and determine whether the shooting warrants a full-fledged inquiry.

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