By PETER BELLER, Special to the Sun
Copyright 2005 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC
All Rights Reserved
The man accused of fatally shooting a New York City police officer and wounding another in two separate incidents pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of murder and attempted murder at an arraignment in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
Shackled and surrounded by six court officers with another nine guarding the courtroom, Allan Cameron, 27, remained silent through his brief court appearance. The same afternoon, police officers, politicians, and family members attended the wake of the second police officer slain in the line of duty in as many weeks.
Cameron is charged with killing Officer Dillon Stewart, 35, during a car chase on November 28, the first shooting death of a police officer this year.
Yesterday afternoon Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver attended a wake for Officer Daniel Enchautegui, 28, who was shot and killed Saturday when he walked out of his Bronx home to investigate the sound of glass breaking.
An actor, Lillo Brancato Jr., 29, and his friend Steven Armento, 48, have been charged with murder in Enchautegui's death. A burial mass was scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. John's Chrysostom Church at 144 Hoe Ave. in the Bronx.
The two fatal shootings of officers, coming so close together, have prompted a show of solidarity among officers - who packed Cameron's arraignment - outraged newspaper editorials over gun laws, and repeated calls by the police union president, Patrick Lynch, to impose a mandatory death penalty for anyone convicted of killing an officer.
"This is a difficult time for all New York police officers," Mr. Lynch said at a news conference after the arraignment, where he was flanked by grim-faced union officials in suits, prosecutors, plainclothes officers, and detectives. "You can imagine the anger police officers feel."
In court, a dazed-looking Cameron, wearing a brown Corrections Department jumpsuit and with his long hair pulled up, glanced quickly at the 40 or so police officers sitting in the gallery but spent most of the short hearing looking down at a table.
He was charged with a total of 14 counts in two indictments, including murder in the first and second degrees, attempted murder, robbery, assault, weapons possession, and possession of marijuana. Cameron has been held without bail at Rikers Island since his arrest. He was scheduled to appear in court again March 6.
Referring to claims by Cameron in a jailhouse interview that he was being made a scapegoat for Stewart's death, Mark Hale, one of the prosecutors on the case, said, "I'm not at all surprised that he made public statements. We'll see if any of those become part of the trial when it happens."
Mr. Silver, who has come under attack from police union officials for not attending Stewart's funeral, appeared to respond to the pressure yesterday by attending Enchautegui's wake and releasing a statement.
"The speaker, along with all New Yorkers, mourns the tragic deaths of officers Dillon Stewart and Daniel Enchautegui, who were heroes from the very first day they put on their uniforms," read the statement. "It should come as no surprise that, even in their dying moments, both officers continued in their duties and demonstrated remarkable valor and dedication to the fulfillment of the oath they swore to protect and serve their fellow citizens."
Stewart, a father of two, continued to pursue his assailant to a parking garage after being shot through the heart at a red light during the chase. Investigators arrested Cameron that morning after linking him to the car in the garage.
After being shot twice in the spleen, allegedly by Armento, Enchautegui managed to fire eight rounds from his revolver, six of which hit Armento and two of which hit Mr. Brancato.
December 14, 2005
Man accused of shooting NY officer pleads not guilty