One Police Plaza

Neri to Testify Before Grand Jury

February 9, 2004

A police officer accused in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager on a Brooklyn rooftop last month is expected to testify Wednesday before a grand jury in Brooklyn.

Lawyers for Officer Richard Neri are having him testify in the hopes that, if he is indicted, it would be on the less serious charge of criminally negligent homicide, sources familiar with the case say.

Neri could also face a charge of second-degree manslaughter. There is also the possibility that no indictment could be returned.

Neri's lawyer, Stuart London; Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch; and Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney's office, all declined to comment.

A source familiar with the Neri case said the officer's testimony is being offered in hopes of convincing the grand jury that the shooting was unintentional.

Sources close to Neri say the officer has said he accidentally and unintentionally shot Timothy Stansbury Jr. on Jan. 24 as he and his partner, Officer Jason Hallik, were conducting a "vertical patrol" in the Louis Armstrong Housing Project in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

According to the sources, the shooting occurred as Hallik went to open the rooftop door at 385 Lexington Ave., just as Stansbury pushed it from the inside, which Neri is expected to tell the grand jury.

Police sources say Neri and Hallik both had their guns drawn. Officers are allowed to decide when to draw their weapons on a case-by-case basis.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said there appears to be "no justification" for the shooting.

©2004 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.