NEW YORK (AP) - A senior police commander has become the third
police official to be reassigned after a botched raid on a Harlem
apartment that left a 57-year-old woman dead.
Assistant Chief Thomas Purtell, who oversees the department's
Emergency Service Unit, was transferred to the Housing Bureau on
Alberta Spruill went into cardiac arrest after the May 16 raid,
during which officers detonated a flash grenade and handcuffed her. A
police informant had wrongly identified her apartment as one used by
a drug dealer to stash cocaine and heroin.
Purtell was not at the raid, and was not directly involved in its
supervision, but the officers who made the decision to use a flash
grenade after breaking down the door were under his command.
Earlier, the Emergency Service Unit lieutenant who supervised the
entry into the apartment was reassigned to desk duty, and the
commander of the precinct where the incident took place was
The city medical examiner's office ruled the death a homicide, saying
Spruill's heart disease was aggravated by the raid. But a city
official said the office was not making any judgment that the police
acted improperly or that their conduct was unlawful.
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The district attorney's office is investigating. No charges have been