N.Y. police shooting described as an accident

Bradley Hope, Staff Reporter of the Sun
The New York Sun
Copyright 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC
All Rights Reserved

The sergeant who fired his weapon hitting a 15-year-old boy in the back of the leg appears to have accidentally shot his weapon after getting bumped by someone, police officials said yesterday.

At 1:15 a.m. on Sunday, six police officers responded to an anonymous 911 call about a "fight with a gun" in a 9th floor apartment at 419 E. 93rd Street in Manhattan. In the hallway of the housing project, they could smell marijuana and inside the apartment they found a party with about 50 teenagers and young adults, Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, a spokesman for the police department, said.

Two sergeants entered the apartment to investigate the call and saw Luke Saintel, 15, turn around and make a movement with his waistband before fleeing into another room. Two sergeants, at least one of them with his gun drawn, followed the young man into the living room of the two-bedroom apartment, which was completely dark and full of people, Mr. Browne said.

The sergeant with his gun drawn was bumped into, causing him to fire his weapon, Mr. Browne said. The bullet struck the floor, but fragments hit the back part of the leg of Mr. Saintel, Mr. Browne said.

The Firearm Review Board is investigating the case and will make the final determination on whether the shooting was accidental. The board has in the past ordered additional training for officers who accidentally fire their weapons. The sergeant who fired his weapon is 35 years old and has been in the NYPD for 14 years, officials said.

A police source said that Mr. Saintel admitted to a detective that he had been smoking marijuana and fled the police into the living room, hoping to blend into the crowd and avoid getting caught.

Police found a Hungarian-made 9mm pistol on the floor of one of the bedrooms in a search after the shooting. The magazine of the pistol was missing, and it wasn't clear yesterday whether the owners of the apartment had a license to own the weapon.

Mr. Saintel registered a complaint about the shooting with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which opened a case yesterday. 

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