DA: Off-duty NYPD cop was attacked after ID'ing himself as officer during road rage incident
"This off-duty cop was attacked while trying to make an arrest, and the charges reflect the seriousness of the assault against him,” the DA said
By Leonard Greene
New York Daily News
An off-duty NYPD officer who clashed with two brothers during a caught-on-camera road rage incident in Queens accidentally shot himself during the struggle, according to court papers.
During the middle-of-the-street scuffle for his gun with one of the brothers, Officer Christopher Campos, 27, fired a shot that wounded himself in the leg and struck one of his assailants, Edwin Rivera, 32, in the hand.
According to a criminal complaint, the wounded suspect’s brother, Shawn Rivera, 27, was on the ground choking Campos before the outnumbered officer fired the shot.
All three combatants were hospitalized with various injuries. Campos was released Friday from Elmhurst Hospital.
The brothers were charged at their arraignment Friday with first-degree assault, assault on a police officer, strangulation and criminal possession of a weapon. Both men were jailed pending court hearings on Tuesday, records show.
“We will not allow our streets to devolve into the Wild West.” said Queens DA Melinda Katz. “The rule of law and the officers who enforce it must be respected.
“After clearly identifying himself as a police officer, this off-duty cop was attacked while trying to make an arrest, and the charges reflect the seriousness of the assault against him,” Katz said.
The fracas began around 12:50 p.m. Wednesday in Maspeth when Campos, who is assigned to the 81st Precinct, was driving eastbound on the Queens Blvd. service road in his personal vehicle.
Campos came upon a white minivan blocking the roadway, officials said.
The cop got around the car and continued on to Queens Blvd. and 70th St., where the minivan and the cop’s car met up again and words were exchanged again. At the same time, one of the brothers came up behind Campos’ car and smashed its back window with his hand, according to the complaint.
Campos told authorities he was trying to arrest Shawn Rivera for breaking the window of his Kia, and that Edwin Rivera intervened.
Cell phone video of the dispute shows the officer with his gun drawn, identifying himself as a police officer.
But the two brothers apparently didn’t believe him, the video shows. “You’re a cop?” Edwin Rivera shouted at Campos. “Where’s your badge? Where’s your badge?”
“You got no badge or nothing,” Shawn Rivera said in the video.
Campos’ badge is not visible in the video.
After the gunshot went off, Edwin Rivera cried out in pain.
Edwin Rivera was struck in the hand by the bullet. He jumped off the pile and hobbled away to the closest hospital, said police. Shawn Rivera had cuts on his hand from where he punched the officer’s window.
A lawyer for the brothers, Lance Lazzaro, said Campos should be arrested, and that he should have shown his badge.
“I think he could have diffused that situation if he had just acted properly,” Lazzaro said. “Instead, he takes out a gun and brings it to another level on two people who have never been in trouble before in their lives.
“Instead the cops protect their own, the DA protects the cops, and the judge gets nervous when he sees all of that in the audience,” the lawyer said. “And it’s just plain wrong. The cops do anything to protect their own.”
A special prosecutor should be appointed because it’s a police-involved shooting, the defense lawyer said.
Lazzaro said he was also disappointed that his clients were remanded without bail.
“You don’t single this case out for two people with no criminal record whatsoever,” Lazzaro said. “They didn’t have a weapon on them. They didn’t look to fight with this cop. This cop created this situation.”
Police sources have said both brothers have criminal records for assault, menacing, drunken driving, reckless endangerment and driving without a license.