One Police Plaza

Cop may opt for plea deal

March 11, 2005

The denials of his lawyer Stuart London notwithstanding, don't be surprised if Bryan Conroy cuts a deal with prosecutors in the 2003 fatal shooting of Ousmane Zongo, an unarmed African immigrant.

London probably did as well for Conroy as could be expected, with a Manhattan jury voting 10-2 to convict after concluding Conroy lied in his grand jury testimony.

With Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau promising a retrial, the chances for conviction could improve.

Now it is Conroy, a young white cop who pursued Zongo to a dead-end warehouse corridor and fatally shot him, who has nowhere to run.

As he did with Richard Neri - a white officer who a year ago accidentally shot Timothy Stansbury, an unarmed black teenager, in Brooklyn - London allowed Conroy to testify before a grand jury, locking him into his account of the shooting.

"If I hadn't," London said, "they would have indicted him for first-degree manslaughter or second-degree murder."

Instead, Conroy was indicted on the lesser count of second-degree manslaughter.

London played a second risky gambit. Bucking decades-old cop tradition, he allowed Conroy to be tried before a jury - not by a judge.

"Times have changed," he said. "There's simply too much pressure on judges to convict in high-profile, racially charged cases."

Had Conroy been convicted, he faced 15 years. A plea deal could mean only a year.

Real deal or whitewash? Despite Police Department spokesman Paul Browne's statement that Deputy Commissioner Garry McCarthy's summons from New Jersey police doesn't rise to a disciplinary level, the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau has begun an investigation, Newsday has learned.

On Monday, nearly three weeks after McCarthy, his wife and daughter each received summonses from the Palisades Interstate Parkway police, IAB contacted that department.

©2005 Newsday, Inc.Reprinted with permission.